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Higher oxygen levels in African-Americans may increase glaucoma risk

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered that oxygen levels are notably higher in the eyes of African-American patients with glaucoma compared to Caucasian patients with glaucoma. Glaucoma is six times more common in African-Americans. Results of this study are in the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. All of the patients involved in the study were having eye surgery so there wasn't a control group involved in the study. Oxygen levels were measured at five different locations in the eye and the oxygen levels were significantly higher in the African-American patients at all five locations. Researchers were not surprised that oxygen may have a big role in the development of glaucoma because oxygen may be a source of free radicals which damage cells. Glaucoma is a disease associated with aging and oxidative stress is linked to the aging process. What researchers still need to determine is whether the elevated oxygen levels cause the intraocular pressure to rise. Once researchers understand the reason for elevated oxygen and how it may damage the eye, they will hopefully be able to develop therapies to prevent the disease.*   Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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