As with heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, glaucoma develops over many years. The idea of attacking glaucoma before damage could occur has been an attractive one, but there was no clear evidence to support this approach. The current study addressed this issue by clearly identifying factors that put people at risk for the disease.
Several risk factors are associated with the development of glaucoma, including older age and African descent, particular characteristics in the anatomy of the optic nerve, and thinness of the cornea.
Fluid regularly flows into and out of the eye. High pressure results when that fluid drains too slowly. Between 3 and 6 million Americans have elevated eye pressure and are at risk for open-angle glaucoma. Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States who have elevated eye pressure but do not have glaucoma already are being treated with medications that lower intraocular pressure, but prior to this study, there was no convincing evidence that the treatment has any long-term benefit. These findings change that.
During the five-year study period, we found that only 4.4 percent of the study patients who received the eye drops developed glaucoma, says Mae E. Gordon, Ph.D., director of the OHTS Coordinating Center and professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Division of Biostatistics at Washington University School of Medicine. By comparison, 9.5 percent of the study participants who did not get pressure-lowering drops developed glaucoma.
Although high pressure in the eye is a strong risk factor for glaucoma, patients arent considered to have the disease until they also have damage to their optic nerve. The damage ca
Contact: Jim Dryden
Washington University School of Medicine