Glaucoma Research for Women Only

Obese women may be more protected from chronic glaucoma risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity may be linked to increased eye pressure and a decreased risk of open-angle (chronic) glaucoma in women, according to a new study. The results do not apply to men, however.

Researchers from Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, looked at data from 3,939 participants age 55 and older living in Rotterdam who did not have open-angle glaucoma -- or chronic glaucoma, the most common variant of the disease -- when the study began in 1991. Approximately 10 years later, 108 participants (around 3 percent) of patients had gone on to develop the disease. Most of these were significantly older males with severe myopia (nearsightedness).

In women there appeared a significant link between increased body mass index (BMI) and intraocular pressure -- a contributing risk factor for glaucoma -- but for every one-unit increase in BMI, there was an associated 7 percent decreased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma. The same associations did not appear for men.

The researchers concluded high estrogen levels and hormone therapy might be protective to open-angle glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Treatments, such as beta-blocker eye drops, work to lower eye pressure and thus decrease damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 21, 2011
Last Updated:
February 21, 2011