Medication to treat ocular hypertension may drastically cut the frequency of developing a common form of glaucoma, a study finds.
A letter released today in the journal Archives of Ophthamology reports on a study of 1,636 people who were randomly assigned to a group that received medical treatment for ocular hypertension or to a group that was observed. After following up with the groups for an average 7.5 years, the observation group was offered medication, and both groups were followed again for an average 5.5 years.
Ocular hypertension is a condition characterized by higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye, an optic nerve that looks normal, and visual field testing that turns up no signs of glaucoma. It's considered a risk factor for developing primary open angle glaucoma, in which pressure in the eye leads to slow vision loss.
Researchers found that taking a topical medication to treat ocular hypertension for 10 years decreased the occurrence of primary open angle glaucoma by about 50% among all those at risk, including African Americans, who have a higher incidence of the disease than do whites.