People who are nearsighted may be nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, according to a study conducted in the US.
The findings in the study, a review of previous studies that was published in Opthalmology, suggest that nearsighted people may want to undergo regular eye screening. “A conclusion might be that persons with high myopia should have regular ophthalmic examinations,” said Barbara Klein, who worked on one of the studies included in the review.
Around seven per cent of the population in Pakistan is affected by some type of glaucoma, said Dr Adil Salim, a consultant ophthalmologist at the Laser Vision Centre in Karachi. “It’s more common among people belonging to the age category of 50 plus”.
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, researchers 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 per cent more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma (also called chronic glaucoma), with those who had higher levels of myopia appearing to be at higher risk of glaucoma as well.
However, the findings only show that nearsightedness and glaucoma often co-occur, not that one causes the other. Furthermore, some of the studies are hard to compare because they looked at people of different ages or ethnicities, or applied different criteria for the conditions. “The results are, in a sense, an average,” she said, adding that they may not be applicable to every group of people.
Ophthalmologists around the world, however, recommend eye exams for all adults beginning around age 40.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.
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