Onchocerciasis: a potential risk factor for glaucoma

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Background:Onchocerciasis is a microfilarial disease that causes ocular disease and blindness. Previous evidence of an association between onchocerciasis and glaucoma has been mixed. This study aims to further investigate the association between onchocerciasis and glaucoma.Methods:All subjects were patients at the Bishop John Ackon Christian Eye Centre in Ghana, west Africa, undergoing either trabeculectomy for advanced glaucoma or extracapsular extraction for cataracts, who also had a skin snip biopsy for onchocerciasis. A cross sectional case-control study was performed to assess the difference in onchocerciasis prevalence between the two study groups.Results:The prevalence of onchocerciasis was 10.6% in those with glaucoma compared with 2.6% in those with cataracts (OR, 4.45 (95% CI 1.48 to 13.43)). The mean age in the glaucoma group was significantly younger than in the cataract group (59 and 65, respectively). The groups were not significantly different with respect to sex or region of residence. In models adjusted for age, region, and sex, subjects with glaucoma had over three times the odds of testing positive for onchocerciasis (OR, 3.50 (95% CI 1.10 to 11.18)).Conclusions:This study has shown a positive association between subclinical onchocerciasis and glaucoma. This finding emphasises the importance of eradication of onchocerciasis from west Africa.

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