Long-term oral contraceptive users at risk for glaucoma

November 19, 2013

Women using oral contraceptive for 3 years or more may be at risk for developing glaucoma and should be screened for the eye disease if they have additional risk factors, according to researchers at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in New Orleans.

Women using oral contraceptives for 3 years or more may be at risk for developing glaucoma and should be screened for the eye disease if they have additional risk factors, according to researchers at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in New Orleans.

Shan C. Lin, MD, the lead researcher from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and his colleagues presented a poster about their findings using 2005-2008 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 3,400 women aged 40 years and older answered the survey’s vision and reproductive survey and underwent eye examinations.

“It found that females who had used oral contraceptives, no matter which kind, for longer than three years are 2.05 times more likely to also report that they have the diagnosis of glaucoma,” according to the press statement.

These data indicate that long-term use of oral contraceptives may be a risk factor for glaucoma. Other factors include African-American ethnicity, family history of glaucoma, history of increased intraocular pressure, and existing visual field defects.

“This study should be an impetus for future research to prove the cause and effect of oral contraceptives and glaucoma,” said Lin, professor of clinical ophthalmology, UCSF.

He suggested that women with long-term oral contraceptive use and other risk factors be screened for glaucoma and followed closely by an ophthalmologist.