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Feb 07 2008

Nine-Year Changes in Intraocular Pressure: The Barbadoes Eye Studies

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This longitudinal study found that after a nine-year time period, intraocular pressure (IOP) in people of African descent did not significantly change. The study, part of the Barbados Eye Studies, was conducted by Sun-Yuh Wu, MA, Barbara Nemesure, PhD, Anselm Hennis, PhD, and Cristina Leske, MD, MPH and reported in the November 2006 edition of Archives of Ophthalmology.

The nine-year follow-up study included 2,298 subjects who, at baseline, did not have glaucoma or glaucoma treatment. The baseline population was randomly selected and included ages 40-84 (average age of 55). Males accounted for 39% of the baseline sample. African origin was self-reported by 93% of the participants.

The study reported that the average change in IOP from baseline was not statistically significant and was only 0.4 mm Hg. Interestingly, the study found that increasing age of participants did not reveal increasing IOP. Gender of participants was related to a larger change in IOP (0.52 mm Hg for men vs 0.21 mm Hg for women).

Although IOP remained relatively unchanged from baseline over the nine-year span, hypertension and diabetes demonstrated an association with increased IOP. However, these systemic conditions have not been consistently associated with increased incidence of open angle glaucoma (OAG).

This article stresses the importance of recognizing that people of African descent are generally at higher risk of OAG. Since IOP is a known risk factor for development of glaucoma, factors affecting IOP are of particular importance to this population. Conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are also prevalent in this population, compounding the importance of understanding factors affecting intraocular pressure.