Patients who have both hypertension and diabetes are significantly more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma (OAG) than patients who have just one or neither of the conditions, according to a study in the July issue of Ophthalmology.

In this study, researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center examined whether certain metabolic conditions––including obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia––increased or decreased an individual’s chances of developing glaucoma.

The researchers found that patients with hypertension, in comparison to healthy individuals, were 17% more likely to develop OAG and that patients with diabetes were 35% more likely to develop OAG.

More importantly, however, patients who had both hypertension and diabetes were 48% more likely to develop OAG than healthy individuals.

“Patients who have diabetes and hypertension are already known to be at elevated risk for eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, a condition that harms the blood vessels in the retina,” says lead author Joshua D. Stein, M.D., M.S., a glaucoma specialist at Kellogg. “This study and others suggest that, for these patients, an increased likelihood of glaucoma is also a concern.”

Dr. Stein and associates suggested that patients who have both hypertension and diabetes should undergo regular eye examinations to monitor for the development of glaucoma.

Newman-Casey PA, Talwar N, Nan B, et al. The relationship between components of metabolic syndrome and open-angle glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 2011 Jul;118(7):1318-26.