Identifying additional early indicators and risk factors for glaucoma is a priority, considering this condition inevitably progresses to vision loss. IOP is the only known controllable factor in glaucoma management, but the average person isn’t likely to know this biometric.

A recent study found that IOP is significantly correlated with body mass index, waist circumference and diastolic blood pressure—factors that are more easily identifiable for the general population. In the study, the researchers noted that elevated IOP is a known risk factor for glaucomatous optic neuropathy, and it’s also associated with obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Because the United States has a high prevalence of these conditions, the researchers determined it was important to assess the relationship among obesity, cardiometabolic risks and IOP in younger, understudied populations. 

They gathered farmworker data from a population in southeast Georgia between 2013 and 2017 and analyzed the correlations between IOP and demographic factors, obesity and cardiometabolic risks. Of the 346 subjects, mean IOP was 15.5mm Hg. The study population had a 5.5% prevalence of ocular hypertension (defined as >21mm Hg), and body mass index, waist circumference and diastolic blood pressure were all significantly corelated with IOP.

The researchers found that with each 10mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure, there was a corresponding 0.51mm Hg increase in IOP. Of note, body mass index was correlated with IOP, independent of systemic blood pressures. The researchers concluded that body mass index is an independent risk factor for elevated IOP.

Reddy A, Halenda K, Cromer P, et al. The association of intraocular pressure with obesity and cardiometabolic risk in a young farmworker population. J Glaucoma. October 15, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].