A new study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine reveals ocular hypertension can have a protective effect against glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss.
What is Glaucoma?
More than three million Americans have glaucoma, a family of diseases that damage the optic nerve and can cause permanent vision loss. Early diagnosis and early intervention are necessary to protect the optic nerve and minimize eye damage.
The most common type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma. In this type, the channels that drain the eye’s fluid become gradually obstructed, causing the pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) to rise. In angle-closure glaucoma, fluid builds up suddenly and causes dangerous pressure spikes.
Open-angle glaucoma has few symptoms, so it is essential to detect glaucoma in the early stages to prevent irreversible eye damage. Once symptoms are present, vision loss has already occurred.
For patients with glaucoma, elevated intraocular pressure is quite dangerous. However, according to a new study from LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence and the University of Copenhagen, some glaucoma patients do not have this same sensitivity: those with ocular hypertension.
Why do patients with ocular hypertension not have the optic nerve damage that is glaucoma? After all, ocular hypertension is when intraocular pressure is higher than “normal.”
The study suggests patients with ocular hypertension possess “increased antioxidant capacity and higher levels of anti-inflammatory, omega-3-derived chemical messengers involved in sustaining cell function in their plasma compared to patients with normal-tension glaucoma and age-matched controls.”
An increased amount of omega-3 fatty acid chemical messengers seems to lower oxidative stress in the eye and prevent the optic nerve from deteriorating.
This new research could result in innovative glaucoma treatments. “The study opens avenues of therapeutic exploration highlighting the significance of the omega-3 fatty acid chemical messengers’ antioxidant capacity as a potential diagnostic biomarker and as a novel treatment to prevent glaucomatous neurodegeneration,” notes Dr. Nicolas G. Bazan, Boyd Professor, Ernest C. and Ivette C. Villere Chair of Retinal Degeneration, and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine (Medical Xpress).
Facts about Glaucoma
The results of this study are promising, but the fact remains that glaucoma is a complex disease that can affect any person at any age. It is important to be aware of your own risk for glaucoma. Some risk factors include:
- Being 60 or older
- Being African American, Asian or Hispanic
- Having a family history of glaucoma
- Having a pre-existing medical condition like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or sickle-cell anemia
- Having thin corneas
Call Your Ophthalmologist
The best way to protect your eyesight is to schedule annual comprehensive eye exams. During the exam, your eye doctor can test your intraocular pressure and determine whether you have ocular hypertension or are at risk for glaucoma.
Call today to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. An eye exam offers a window into your overall health, and it is an important part of preventive care.