Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and a growing public health concern because of an aging global population. It is often associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can permanently damage vision in the affected eye, first by decreasing peripheral vision, and then potentially leading to blindness if left untreated.
Abnormal body levels of essential elements and exposure to toxic trace metals have been postulated to contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases affecting many organ systems, including the eye. Now, a new study from researchers at University of California, San Francisco, National Yang-Ming University and Stanford University has shown that a lower blood manganese level and higher blood mercury level were associated with greater odds of a glaucoma diagnosis. The opensource study is published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
The current study investigated the relationship between body levels of 5 trace metals (manganese, mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic) and the prevalence of glaucoma which was diagnosed using the ISGEO criteria. Blood or urine metallic element levels and information pertaining to ocular disease were available for 2,680 individuals (19 years and older) participating in the fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between January 2007 and December 2009.
The data findings showed that lower blood manganese levels and higher blood mercury levels were associated with greater glaucoma prevalence. The results showed no association between blood lead or cadmium levels or urine arsenic levels and a diagnosis of glaucoma.
The researchers surmise that future studies will be necessary to confirm these associations and to explore the role of trace elements in the pathogenesis of glaucoma, as well as possible neuroprotective effects, which could lead to novel therapeutic targets in glaucoma management.
Source: The JAMA Network
Michelle is a health industry veteran who taught and worked in the field before training as a science journalist.
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