THURSDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- While maintaining a healthy weight is linked to a lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes, being overweight may actually protect some women from a form of glaucoma, Harvard researchers say.
This new finding suggests that overweight women may have a lower risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), one of the most common age-related eye diseases. In particular, overweight women may be especially protected from a variant of POAG called normal-tension glaucoma, the researchers say.
"While being overweight has many negative health consequences, increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma was not one of them," said lead researcher Dr. Louis R. Pasquale, director of the Glaucoma Service at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
"While this study was a comprehensive assessment of the relation between body shape and glaucoma, it should not lead to recommendations about adopting an ideal body weight to prevent glaucoma," he added.
The report is published in the August issue of Ophthalmology.
For the study, Pasquale's group collected data on 78,777 women in the Nurses' Health Study and 41,352 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The researchers found that each unit increase in body mass index (BMI) was associated with a 6 percent lowered risk for normal-tension glaucoma. BMI is a measurement that takes into account a person's height and weight.
In addition, women with a high BMI when they were young also had reduced risk of developing normal-tension glaucoma.
Among men, there was no association between BMI and the risk for POAG, the researchers noted.
Since most of those in the study were white Europeans, these findings may be limited to similar patients, they added.
Glaucoma is a potentially blinding
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