Is atrial fibrillation a risk factor for normal-tension glaucoma?

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Abstract

Glaucoma (GL) and atrial fibrillation (AF) are diseases of significant social importance. Cardiovascular disorders such as systemic hypertension, hypotension, increased blood viscosity, vasospasm, and diabetes are potential risk factors of GL, especially when intraocular pressure is not elevated. Only a few studies have reported a possible connection between cardiac arrhythmias and GL. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of GL in patients with AF.

A total of 117 patients were included in the study, 79 with AF (AF group) and 38 with sinus rhythm (Control group), matched for age and sex. The mean ± standard deviation age was 73.6 ± 7.2 and 71.6 ± 4.7 years for the AF and control groups, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences in the percentage of systemic hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus type 2, or vascular disease between the groups. Patients were examined for the presence of normal-tension glaucoma (NTG) by an ophthalmologist.

NTG was confirmed in 40 patients (34.2%) in the entire group, with 35 (44.3%) in the AF group and 5 (13.15%) in the Control group. The incidence of NTG was significantly higher in the AF group (P = .0221). Women represented 60% of GL patients in the AF group and 80% in the control group. There were no significant differences in intraocular pressure between the groups (mean ± standard deviation, 14.3 ± 2.3 vs. 14.2 ± 2.8 mmHg, P = .4202). Approximately three-fourths of patients with AF and NTG had early visual field damage based on the Hodapp classification.

AF, independent of other known cardiovascular risk factors, increases the risk of developing NTG. Many AF patients do not have conspicuous symptoms of GL, so understanding the possible risk of its development is critical because early detection might help to prevent later visual impairment and even irreversible blindness.

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