Postmenopausal Hormones Containing Estrogen May Reduce Glaucoma Risk

CHICAGO – Using postmenopausal hormones (PMH) containing estrogen may reduce a woman’s risk for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), a common form of the disease related to the build-up of pressure inside the eye, according to a report published by JAMA Ophthalmology, a JAMA Network publication.

Some prior research has suggested that PMH use may be associated with modestly reduced intraocular pressure (IOP), which suggests PMH may decrease the risk for POAG, according to the study background.

The authors examined claims data for women 50 years and older who were enrolled in a managed-care plan for at least four years and had at least two visits to an eye care provider from 2001 through 2009. They evaluated three different classes of PMH (estrogen, estrogen plus progesterone, or estrogen plus androgen) and the risk for POAG.

Of the 152,163 eligible enrollees, 2,925 (1.9 percent) developed POAG. Each additional month a woman used a PMH containing estrogen (E) alone was associated with a 0.4 percent reduced relative risk for POAG, according to the study results. There was no association between risk for POAG and use of estrogen plus progesterone or estrogen plus androgen.

“More research is needed to better elucidate the complex relationship between PMH use and glaucoma. Additional work should also further explore whether the risk for POAG is affected only by use of E alone, or by use of any PMH class,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online January 30, 2014. doi:10.1001/.jamaopthalmol.2013.7618)

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by a variety of grants. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media Advisory: To contact corresponding author Joshua D. Stein, M.D., M.S., call Betsy Nisbet at 734-647-5586 or email

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