Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
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Gender and glaucoma: what we know and what we need to know.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: With growing aging populations and an increase in cases of glaucoma and glaucoma blindness worldwide, aging populations are particularly at higher risk of glaucoma and glaucoma blindness. Awareness of the gender differences might increase attention toward populations at risk.

RECENT FINDINGS: Women not only outlive men, but also outnumber men in glaucoma cases worldwide. Women are at higher risks for angle closure glaucoma, but there is no clear gender predilection for open angle glaucoma. Of interest, there is some evidence suggesting that female sex hormones might be protective of the optic nerve. In addition, it is hypothesized that decreased estrogen exposure is associated with increased risk for open angle glaucoma, yet population-based studies present inconsistent results. Presently, there is insufficient evidence to support hormonal replacement therapy use in glaucoma prevention. In addition, it appears that women carry a larger burden of glaucoma blindness due to longevity and disadvantages in socioeconomic/health beliefs.

SUMMARY: Current evidence suggests that older women are at risk for glaucoma and glaucoma blindness. Further interdisciplinary research involving investigators, specialized in glaucoma, women's health and health disparities, will lead to better understanding of gender health disparities in glaucoma and better targeting populations at risk.

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