Glaucoma drug helps restore vision loss linked to obesity

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From the WUSTL Newsroom…

A new study shows that the eyesight of patients with an unusual vision disorder linked to obesity improves twice as much if they take a glaucoma drug and lose a modest amount of weight than if they only lose weight.

The condition, called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, affects an estimated 100,000 people in the United States. Most are obese women ages 20 to 50.

The researchers recently reported their results in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The condition’s most common symptoms are headaches and vision problems, including blind spots, poor peripheral vision, double vision and temporary episodes of blindness. Five to 10 percent of women with the disorder experience disabling vision loss. Only about 5 percent of cases involve men.

“The condition results in elevated pressure in the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord,” said co-author Gregory P. Van Stavern, MD, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. “We don’t completely understand the disorder but know it affects the optic nerve because when fluid pressure is elevated, the optic nerve is swollen when we examine the eye.”

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Posted on July 1, 2014
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