An ACE side effect

Anti-hypertensive medications appear to protect against the onset of glaucoma


Patients who start taking many forms of anti-hypertensive medication may also be unknowingly protecting themselves from developing glaucoma, a new Danish study has found.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark looked at the prescriptions of the Danish population, for patients taking glaucoma medication and at least two treatments for hypertension, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers and vasodilatives.

The paper, published in the journal Hypertension, analysed the data from 2.6 million Danish people aged between 40–95, from 1996 to 2012.

A patient who develops hypertension is at an increased risk of also developing glaucoma, researcher Anna Horwitz told OT.

She explained that: “While glaucoma risk is increasing over time, it is increasing less in the years following the onset of anti-hypertensive medication. Our estimates suggest that the trend in the risk of glaucoma is reduced by 43% at the onset of anti-hypertensive medication.”

This suggests that medication for hypertension is protecting the patient from developing the ocular condition, Ms Horwitz highlighted.

If this is verified by further studies, cardiologists and optical clinicians should be jointly involved in the prevention or treatment of the eye disease, she emphasised.

It was not possible to conclusively determine if one anti-hypertensive treatment, such as ACE inhibitors or alpha-blockers, offered more protection than others, the authors noted in the paper, adding: “Our analysis of separate anti-hypertension drugs showed that all drugs, except vasodilatives, have a protective effect.”