Lowering Your Risk of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is progressively damaged by elevated eye pressure and/or reduced blood flow to the optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. One of the major risk factors for glaucoma development is advancing age – or as I like to tell patients – the longer you are alive the more likely it is to develop.
Metformin is a medication that is commonly used to treat diabetes. It is a drug that mimics caloric restriction; this class of drugs has been shown to reduce risk of other diseases associated with advancing age. A research team based at the University of Michigan decided to investigate whether patients on metformin have a reduced risk of developing glaucoma.
Over 150,000 diabetic patients over age 40 years with no history of glaucoma were studied. After 10 years, 4% of the patients developed glaucoma. The patients who were taking the highest dose of meformin had a 25% reduced risk of developing glaucoma compared to those who did not take metformin. The research team estimated that taking a standard dose of metformin (2 grams per day) for 2 years would reduced the risk of developing glaucoma by 21%.
This data applies only to diabetics as this was the population studied. Taking metformin to prevent glaucoma if you are not diabetic can cause complications such as low blood sugar. Further studies are planned to see if this result can be extended to non-diabetics and if oral metformin can prevent glaucoma progression in those with the disease.
Source: JAMA Ophthalmology, Association of Geroprotective Effects of Metformin and Risk of Open-Angle Glaucoma in Persons with Diabetes Mellitus. August 2015 pp 915-23
Michelle Akler, MD
Detroit Area LASIK Surgeon