Individuals Suffering from Hypertension at Increased Risk of Glaucoma

Individuals who suffer from diabetes and hypertension may be at an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

According to researchers from the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, individuals who suffer from diabetes and hypertension may be at an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

"Patients who have diabetes and hypertension are already known to be at elevated risk for eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, a condition that harms the blood vessels in the retina," reported lead researcher Joshua D. Stein, MD, MS, a glaucoma specialist at Kellogg. "This study and others suggest that, for these patients, an increased likelihood of glaucoma is also a concern."

The study focused on potential relationships between the many elements that make up metabolic syndrome, which affects one fifth of people living in the United States. Metabolic syndrome consists of several conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

The researchers also assessed how each component affected an individual’s risk of developing glaucoma.

Stein and his research team reviewed the billing records of over two million patients. The patients were all over the age of 40 and had visited an eye care provider one or more times between 2001 and 2007; further, all patients had been enrolled in a managed care network in the United States.

The researchers discovered that:

  • Patients suffering only from diabetes were at a 35% increased risk of developing OAG
  • Patients with only hypertension were at an increased risk of 17%
  • Patients suffer from both diabetes and hypertension were at an increased risk of 48%
  • Patients suffering from hyperlipidemia, however, actually had a reduced risk of developing OAG of 5%.

The study explained that further research is in the works, and that this research aims to examine what factors associated with hyperlipidemia are responsible for the decreased risk of a patient developing OAG—whether it is the condition itself, the medications used as treatment, or both factors.

The researchers are very hopeful that the findings of this future study will eventually lead to better treatments for glaucoma.

"This study reinforces the importance of regular eye examinations for patients at increased risk of glaucoma, including those with diabetes and hypertension," concluded Stein.

The study, funded by the National Eye Institute, was published online in July in Ophthalmology.