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Excess Weight May Protect Women From Type of Glaucoma
Date:8/5/2010

illness that damages the optic nerve. Increased pressure in the eye is linked to optic nerve damage. Effective treatments to control eye pressure are available. But in people with normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage happens even though their eye pressure is not high, the researchers noted.

"There is no stereotypical body shape associated with primary open-angle glaucoma, but the negative relation we found between body mass index and the normal-tension variant of primary open-angle glaucoma in women may give some clues regarding eye-pressure independent mechanisms of optic nerve deterioration in this disease," Pasquale said.

"We postulate that fatty tissue in the body may release hormonally related signals that help prevent optic nerve deterioration in glaucoma," he said.

Dr. Krishna S. Kishor, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said usually there is a connection between being overweight and increased eye pressure and a loose correlation between glaucoma and diabetes, which often affect the obese.

"But in overweight women some hormones may be binding with the retina and may be protecting these women from getting glaucoma," he said.

However, Kishor is cautious and thinks more research is needed to see if this correlation holds true. For example, blacks, who are more susceptible to glaucoma, were not well-represented in the study, he noted. In addition, these data were self-reported, which is not always accurate, he added.

In any case, people should not put on weight in hopes of preventing glaucoma, Kishor said. "Don't gain weight thinking that it might somehow protect you," he said.

More information

For more information on glaucoma, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Louis R. Pasqua
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