Oral contraceptives have been associated with cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, venous thromboembolic disease and breast cancer. As certain eye conditions share similar risk factors, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked into the potential association but found women who filled female hormone therapy prescriptions didn’t increase their odds of developing retinal artery (RAO) or vein occlusions (RVO).

The study analyzed information from an administrative claims insurance database that compared 205,304 women who filled a prescription for female hormone therapy with a group of 755,462 controls. Participants were about 47 years old, and 71% were white.

In the study group, 41 women had RAO (0.01%) and 68 had RVO (0.02%). In the control group, on the other hand, the researchers identified 373 cases of RAO (0.05%) and 617 cases of RVO (0.08%). Regression analysis showed no difference in RAO, RVO or combined outcome risk between groups. Further sub-analyses that stratified by age, diabetes and hypertension similarly showed no significant association between female hormone therapy and all outcomes.

These findings suggest that filling a prescription for female hormone therapy, and presumably taking the medication, doesn’t increase the risk of RAO or RVO, the researchers noted. A patient’s history of female hormone therapy may not be relevant in RAO or RVO evaluations, nor do the study’s results support stopping this medication in an woman who develops either condition, the study authors added.

Song D, Nadelmann J, Yu Y, et al. Association of retinal vascular occlusion with women filling a prescription for female hormone therapy. JAMA Ophthalmology. November 12, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].