Black Glaucoma Patients Have an Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Death, Study Finds
Blacks who have been diagnosed and treated for glaucoma have an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly those who receive certain eye drops for treatment of open-angle glaucoma, according to a study published in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, Reuters reports. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of the disease and the leading cause of blindness in populations of African origin, according to study author Suh-Yuh Wu of Stony Brook University.
For the study, Wu and colleagues examined the long-term mortality rates of 4,092 blacks in Barbados who received eye exams between 1987 and 1992 as part of the Barbados Eye Studies. Researchers noted that more than 90% of Barbados residents are black, with long life expectancies and free access to health care.
At the start of the study, 300 participants were diagnosed with glaucoma, 141 of whom had received treatment. Researchers observed the participants over a nine-year period and found that 19%, or 764 participants, had died by the end of the study. There was no association between glaucoma and overall risk of death. However, participants who were previously diagnosed or treated for open-angle glaucoma had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and participants treated with timolol eye drops had a 91% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Participants with ocular hypertension at the beginning of the study had a 28% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The authors noted in the study, "One explanation for the excess mortality found in persons with previously diagnosed open-angle glaucoma could be their longer duration of disease compared with those with newly diagnosed disease." They added, "Another explanation for an increased mortality risk could be related to the open-angle glaucoma treatment received." Researchers concluded that further investigation is needed to determine the effects glaucoma treatments have on mortality (Reuters, 3/10).
An abstract of the study is available online.