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High blood pressure linked to glaucoma risk

The results of a study involving more that 27,000 people with glaucoma suggest that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is significantly more common in this group than in those who do not have hypertension, UK researchers report.
/ Source: Reuters

The results of a study involving more that 27,000 people with glaucoma suggest that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is significantly more common in this group than in those who do not have hypertension, UK researchers report. They also found that treating hypertension with beta-blocker drugs, but not other types of antihypertensive drugs, lowered the risk of glaucoma.

Dr. Michael J. S. Langman and colleagues at the University of Birmingham note in their report, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, that recent work suggests that hypertension is characterized by increased sodium retention. This in turn, may increase pressure in the eye, a factor in glaucoma.

To determine whether there might be a relationship between these situations in regard to hypertension and glaucoma, the researchers studied data from 27,080 patients with glaucoma and a like number of subjects of the same sex and age without glaucoma.

Hypertension was significantly more common in glaucoma patients -- 29 percent -- than in controls. The researchers also found that hypertension treatment with beta-blocker drugs reduced the risk of a subsequent glaucoma diagnosis by 23 percent.

This was not the case for those with hypertension who were treated with other types of antihypertensive drugs. An increase risk of glaucoma was seen in patients treated with calcium channel antagonist drugs (34 percent), angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor drugs (16 percent) and steroids (78 percent).

The team concludes that hypertension and glaucoma “tend to be associated and that common mechanisms related to sodium handling are responsible.” Antihypertension treatment with steroids and beta blockers, they add, appear to have “important and opposite effects on glaucoma risk.”

The findings, Langman told Reuters Health, “point at possible simple ways to prevent glaucoma if at-risk groups can be adequately defined.”