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Higher weight protects against certain forms of glaucoma

While maintaining a healthy body weight is instrumental in preventing the onset of many diseases, a higher body weight may actually protect women from a form of glaucoma. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is one of the most prevalent forms of age-related eye diseases. A recent study was conducted by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and evaluated 78,777 women and 41,352 men. The study found that women had a 6 percent reduction in their risk for normal tension glaucoma (NTG)for every unit increase in their Body Mass Index (BMI). NTG is a variant of primary open-angle glaucoma in which damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye occurs with low or normal intraocular pressures. Researchers speculate that hormonally-controlled factors released from lean tissues may alter the risk of NTG in women. Also, higher estrogen levels in postmenopausal women with a higher BMI might have a positive effect on the estrogen receptors in the optic nerve. Further research will be needed to substantiate the study's findings and to clarify the biological mechanisms associated with the study. Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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