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Strokes Worsen Effects of Glaucoma

July 28, 2009

A three-year study in Hong Kong has unveiled that glaucoma patients might lose more of their vision if they suffer minor strokes.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, and experts think that over 60 million people in the world will suffer from it by 2010.

The study found that glaucoma patients that suffered minor strokes were 61 percent more likely to lose more of their vision that those patients who did not suffer minor strokes.

“These (minor) strokes in the brain are likely to affect the eye,” Dexter Leung, ophthalmology clinical assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told a news conference on Tuesday.

Minor strokes, also known as silent cerebral infractions (SCI), are disturbances in blood supply to the brain.  Most patients that suffer from a stroke are not even aware of it and they may lead to the loss of some functions in the brain.

The study, which was published in the journal Opthalmology, involved 286 patients with glaucoma.  

The researchers discovered that close to 30 percent of these patients suffered SCIs over a three-year period.  Those that suffered the minor strokes were 61 percent more likely to lose more of their vision than those who did not.

Professor Dennis Lam, the lead author of the study, said stroke prevention was important to stop the deterioration of glaucoma.

“It’s important to have systemic control by controlling risk factors of stroke, such as diabetes, hypertension, and adopting healthier lifestyles (like diet and exercise),” said Lam, who is also from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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