August 15, 2005

High blood pressure linked to higher glaucoma risk

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - 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

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

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

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

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."

SOURCE: British Journal Ophthalmology, August 2005.