The diabetes drug metformin was linked to a lower risk of developing the eye condition glaucoma in a new study.
People who took the most metformin during the 10-year study period had a 25 percent reduced risk of glaucoma compared with people not taking the drug, researchers found.
“Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide and classic open-angle glaucoma develops in late middle age or late age. So we hypothesized that a drug that mimics caloric restriction, such as metformin, might reduce the risk of glaucoma,” said lead researcher Julia Richards, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explained that glaucoma is caused by too much fluid in the eye, when fluid doesn’t drain adequately, or when the blood vessels in the optic nerve are damaged. “Somehow metformin is affecting one of those conditions,” he said.
Fromer pointed out that although the results of this study are impressive, using metformin to prevent or treat glaucoma in non-diabetic patients is problematic. Metformin could drop blood sugar too low in people without diabetes, he said.