Two findings published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology are providing eye care practitioners with a new understanding of ethnic distinctions in glaucoma.

In a six-year study of 3,188 Malay and Indian patients aged 40 to 80, researchers showed changes in IOP are associated with body mass index (BMI), diabetes and hypertension.1 But there’s good news, too. Controlling hypertension (i.e., decreasing systemic blood pressure) can help reduce IOP.1

The study also found that increased age correlated with a reduction— albeit small—in IOP.1 This finding may be unique to the Asian population, as the 2007 Beaver Dam study, in which Wisconsin-based researchers reviewed 3,917 patients, found IOP increases with age.2 The study itself speculated about the ethnic difference, saying “recent research suggests there may be ethnic/racial differences in IOP patterns.” Additionally, the study reads, “There is little doubt that IOP decreased with aging in Asians. Data from our study and previous work on East Asian populations support this relationship.” However, in the vast majority of those individuals, the decrease was small (between 0.4mm Hg and 0.6mm Hg) over the six years.1 The authors speculate an age-related decline in aqueous production accounts for the IOP reduction.

Of the 3,188 patients studied, 484 (15%) developed hypertension by the six-year follow-up. Lower IOP was found in participants taking beta-blockers, but no significant changes were seen in participants taking other medication classes.1

1. Chua J, Chee M, Chin C, et al. Inter-relationship between ageing, body mass index, diabetes, systemic blood pressure and intraocular pressure in Asians: 6-year longitudinal study. Br J Ophthalmol. April 9, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2018.
2. Klein R, Klein B, Knudtson M, et al. Fifteen-year cumulative incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2007;114(2):253-62.