Can Metformin Hydrochloride Reduce Risk Of Glaucoma?

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A research project, jointly initiated at the American universities of Michigan and Indiana, believes it has found a link between the drug metformin hydrochloride and a reduced risk of developing open angle glaucoma. The drug itself is actually a common treatment for sufferers of diabetes type 2. As high as a 25% risk reduction is being speculated by the team of researchers in regards to the eye condition which can lead to blindness.

Glaucoma is a medical term used to describe a collection of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve. Commonly, the eye disorder is connected to an increased fluid pressure in the eye. The two main categories of the eye condition, are open angle and closed angle. Whilst closed angle glaucoma can be characterised as being painful very quickly, with severe nausea and other fast acting symptoms which require emergency medical treatment, the open angle variation of the eye disease is much slower to develop and is normally treated through medication or surgery to lower the pressure in the eye. It is the open angle variant of glaucoma that the research project saw a noticeable difference in risk reduction through the use of metformin hydrochloride.

Stats at a glance:

  • 150,016 diabetes sufferers data was used during the project
  • 5,893 diabetes sufferers developed open angle glaucoma
  • Patients who were treated with the highest dose of the drug metformin hydrochloride showed a 25% risk reduction in developing open angle glaucoma

The drug metformin hydrochloride is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and its effects are to help the patient manage their blood glucose levels. It does this by stopping glucose from being released into the bloodstream by the liver.

Whilst the study looked at the effects of diabetes sufferers taking the maximum prescribable amount of the drug metformin hydrochloride, the project researchers believe that such amounts would not necessarily be required in order to achieve similar results. Their projection was that the administering of just the standard 2g dose daily, across a two year period, would significantly affect a persons risk of glaucoma by up to 20.8%

Image credit: 
"Acute angle closure glaucoma" by James Heilman, MD - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -