Glaucoma can be affected by outside temperatures, gender and sun exposure

Researchers have found that generation of glaucoma as a result of exfoliation syndrome (ES) is affected by age, gender, the place where you live, outside temperature and sun exposure.

This research has been done by researchers from the Mass. Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., Department of Medicine, Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass., Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., and published online in the January issue of the journal Ophthalmology.

“Although many studies from around the world have reported on the burden of the disease, some aspects of the basic descriptive epidemiologic features, which may help shed light on the cause, are inconsistent,” said Louis Pasquale, M.D., study co-author and director of Massachusetts Eye and Ear’s Glaucoma Center of Excellence. “In this study we found that women are more vulnerable to this disease then men, that ES is not a disease of Norwegian descent, and that where you live does matter when it comes to developing the disease.”

Researchers worked on the data from 78,955 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 41,191 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), who are residents of United States.

“Importantly, those with a lifetime residential history of living in the middle tier and south tier of the United States was associated with 47% and 75% reduced risks, respectively, compared with living in the northern tier, and across the life span, residence at age 15 was the most strongly associated with risk, followed by current residence,” the authors wrote.

The study also showed that a positive family history increases the chances to more than double and iris (eye) color has no relation to increase the chances of developing the disease.

“This large prospective cohort study demonstrates that there is a positive association between latitude and ES risk that is robust and not related to demographic features or other systemic covariates,” Dr. Pasquale explained. “Another manuscript we published recently suggests that lower ambient temperature interacts with increased solar exposure to increase the risk of ES. This new work demonstrates a relation between increasing latitude and a condition with a strong predisposition to glaucoma. More work is needed to determine how environmental factors conspire to contribute to ES.”



Jae Hee Kang ScD, Stephanie Loomis MPH, Janey L. Wiggs MD, PhD, Joshua D. Stein MD, MS, Louis R. Pasquale MD (2011). Demographic and Geographic Features of Exfoliation Glaucoma in 2 United States-Based Prospective Cohorts. Ophthalmology, doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.06.018

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