Mark Siegel, MD, FAAO
People who are nearsighted (myopic) may be nearly twice as likely to also develop glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, according to a recent study.
More than two million people over 40 in the US alone have been diagnosed with the eye disease, which is becoming increasingly expensive to treat.
The findings in the study, a review of previous studies that was published in the journal Ophthalmology, suggest to some experts that nearsighted people — a third of all US residents — may want to undergo regular eye screening.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, causing gradual loss of vision. There are several treatments available, including drugs and surgery, but none of them can restore sight once it has been lost.
For the latest study, Nomdo Jansonius at the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands and colleagues combined data from 11 previous studies that included tens of thousands of people, tracking who was nearsighted and had glaucoma.
Overall, nearsighted people were about 90% more likely to also develop open-angle glaucoma, with those who had higher levels of myopia appearing to be at higher risk of glaucoma as well.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology already recommends regular eye exams for all adults beginning around age 40. The group urges African Americans to start even earlier, with exams every three to five years, because their risk of glaucoma is higher.