Some high blood pressure drugs may be associated with increased risk of vision-threatening disease

May 28, 2014, American Academy of Ophthalmology

There may be a connection between taking vasodilators and developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 65 and older, according to a study published online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

AMD – the deterioration of the eye's macula, which is responsible for the ability to see fine details clearly – affects an estimated 11 million people in the United States. In addition to increased age, the cause of AMD may be attributed to several risk factors, including hereditary risk and smoking. Some studies have also found an association between AMD and , but this has been inconsistent. To help clarify the relationship between AMD incidence and blood pressure lowering medications, including vasodilators, researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health conducted a long-term population-based cohort study from 1988 to 2013 of nearly 5,000 residents of Beaver Dam, Wis., aged 43 to 86 years. The research is part of the National Eye Institute -funded Beaver Dam Eye Study, which has since 1987 collected information on the prevalence and incidence of AMD, and diabetic retinopathy.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for age, sex and other factors, using any vasodilator such as Apresoline and Loniten, which open (dilate) the blood vessels – was associated with a 72 percent greater risk of developing early-stage AMD. Among people who were not taking vasodilators, an estimated 8.2 percent developed signs of early AMD. In comparison, among those taking a vasodilator medication, 19.1 percent developed the disease.

The researchers also found that taking oral beta blockers such as Tenormin and Lopressor was associated with a 71 percent increase in the risk of neovascular AMD, a more advanced and vision-threatening form of the disease. Among those who were not taking oral beta blockers an estimated 0.5 percent developed signs of neovascular AMD. In comparison among those taking oral beta blockers, 1.2 percent developed neovascular AMD.

While the study provides risk estimates of associations between lowering medications and AMD at various stages, the researchers caution that their study was not able to discern effects of the medications themselves and the conditions for which participants were taking those medications.

"As significant as these results may be, it's important that they be replicated first, and if possible tested in a clinical trials setting before changing anyone's medication regimens," said Ronald Klein, M.D., MPH, lead researcher of the study. "Further research is needed to determine the cause of these increased risks."

Explore further: Regular aspirin use ten or more years ago associated with increased risk of type of age-related macular degeneration

Related Stories

Regular aspirin use ten or more years ago associated with increased risk of type of age-related macular degeneration

December 18, 2012
Among nearly 5,000 study participants, regular aspirin use reported ten years prior was associated with a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of neovascular age‑related macular degeneration, according ...

Genotyping IDs long-term risk of macular degeneration

November 13, 2012
(HealthDay)—Genotyping of two genetic risk alleles can be used to estimate the long-term risk of early and late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but knowing the phenotype is important in assessing risk when early ...

Patients with AMD may not need monthly injections

May 6, 2014
Researchers have found that, contrary to prvious clinical trial findings, monthly injections to counteract age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may not be necessary. The research is being presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting ...

Findings support link between hsCRP, macular degeneration

February 8, 2013
(HealthDay)—Pooled results from five cohorts confirm that high levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) correlate with increased future risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to research ...

Researchers develop risk assessment model for advanced age-related macular degeneration

August 8, 2011
A new risk assessment model may help predict development of advanced age-related macular degeneration, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Recommended for you

Outbreak of preventable eye infection in contact lens wearers

September 21, 2018
A new outbreak of a rare but preventable eye infection that can cause blindness, has been identified in contact lens wearers in a new study led by UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital researchers.

Newly formed blood vessels may contribute to eye disease

September 14, 2018
Newly formed blood vessels may be cracks in the barrier between the bloodstream and the eye, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Eye disease can cause blindness, and it's on the rise

August 29, 2018
A new study into recent cases of ocular syphilis warns increasing numbers of people are at risk of permanent damage to their vision.

INSiGHT identifies unique retinal regulatory genes

August 28, 2018
Vision begins in the retina, a light-sensing neural network in the eye that is critical for our ability observe the world around us. Researches at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and the Hospital for ...

Alzheimer's one day may be predicted during eye exam

August 23, 2018
It may be possible in the future to screen patients for Alzheimer's disease using an eye exam.

Researchers find potential new gene therapy for blinding disease

August 20, 2018
The last year has seen milestones in the gene therapy field, with FDA approvals to treat cancer and an inherited blinding disorder. New findings from a team led by University of Pennsylvania vision scientists, who have in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.