New study highlights drug and glaucoma connection

New study highlights drug and glaucoma connection

Experts in the US have published a study revealing that people who take drugs may have an increased risk of developing serious eye problems.

The study appears in an issue of Journal of Glaucoma and was carried out jointly by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development Service.

It revealed that, after adjustments for race and age, current and former cocaine users had a 45 per cent increased risk of glaucoma.

In addition, men with open-angle glaucoma also had significant exposures to amphetamines and marijuana, although less than cocaine.

On average, patients with open-angle glaucoma and history of exposure to drugs were nearly 20 years younger than glaucoma patients without a drug exposure history, noted study first author Dr Dustin French, a research scientist.

"The association of illegal drug use with open-angle glaucoma requires further study, but if the relationship is confirmed, this understanding could lead to new strategies to prevent vision loss," he explained.

Dr French added that, among the 5.3 million veterans (91 per cent of whom were male) who used VA outpatient clinics in 2009, almost 83,000 had glaucoma.

During the same year, nearly 178,000 of all those seen in the outpatient clinics had a diagnosis of cocaine use.

The expert added that the long-term effects of cocaine use on intraocular pressure, which is the only modifiable risk factor for glaucoma, requires further research.

If the association between cocaine use and glaucoma is confirmed in other studies, substance abuse would present another modifiable risk factor for this disease, Dr French stated. 

by Emily Tait

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