Eye Drops Delay Onset of Glaucoma in People at Higher Risk

New Findings Could Help Prevent the Disease

New York (July 2002) -- Researchers at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary have discovered that eye drops used to treat elevated pressure inside the eye can be effective in delaying the onset of glaucoma.  These results mean that treating people at higher risk for developing glaucoma may delay – and possibly prevent – the disease.

"This study changes the way doctors are going to treat patients," said Jeffrey Liebmann, M.D., Associate Director of the Glaucoma service at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and a lead investigator in the multi-institutional study sponsored by the National Eye Institute. “It improves the likelihood of vision for many.”

The findings were published in the June 2002 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology. The study shows that lowering the pressure of normal fluid inside the eye can cut the risk of developing the most common form of glaucoma, open angle glaucoma, by more than 50 percent.

Researchers noted that 4.4 percent of the study participants who received the eye drops developed glaucoma within five years. By comparison, 9.5 percent of the study participants who did not receive the eye drops developed glaucoma.

The study, called the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, examined 1,636 people 40-80 years of age, all of whom had elevated eye pressure but no signs of glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma affects about 2.2 million Americans age 40 and over; but another two million may have the disease and don’t know it. 

For more information about the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, please visit Washington University's website.

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