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Current beta-blocker advice ‘may increase glaucoma’

By Lilian Anekwe

NICE guidance on blood pressure treatment ‘may have to be reviewed’ after evidence showed prescribing beta-blockers may reduce a hypertensive patient’s risk of developing glaucoma, according to UK researchers.

The case control study of patient records from 177 general practices to identify 8,800 patients diagnosed and/or treated for glaucoma between 2000 and 2007, and matched them with the same number of glaucoma-free controls.

Treatment with oral beta-1 beta-blockers was associated with a 19% reduction in the risk of glaucoma compared with controls. Non-selective medications did not significantly lower the risk of glaucoma. Neither statins nor any other antihypertensive treatments were associated with glaucoma.

Dr Christopher Owen, an epidemiologist in community health sciences at St George’s hospital in London, concluded: ‘Oral beta-1 beta-blockers may protect against development of glaucoma. The current consensus on the relative importance of beta-2 receptor blockade in treating glaucoma may need to be reviewed. Changes in prescribing oral beta-blockers for cardiovascular disorders may potentially impact on the numbers who develop glaucoma.’

Investigation Ophthalmology & Visual Science, published online February 3 2010

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