Lifestyle habits and glaucoma

01 March 22

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Paul Foster smiling at the camera

Paul Foster at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is leading a Fight for Sight funded study investigating the effect of lifestyle factors – such as alcohol, smoking, exercise and diet – on the development of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a chronic, eye disease and a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, affecting an estimated 76 million people.

Progressive damage to the optic nerve, which transmits signals from the eye to the brain, is strongly linked to elevated pressure within the eyes (intra-ocular pressure).

The study aims to precisely describe whether lifestyle factors raise or lower this pressure (and to what extent) and determine if they play a protective or detrimental role in the development of glaucoma.

Key to this work is a unique database called the UK Biobank. Since 2005, more than half a million people aged between 40 and 69 have given blood, urine and saliva samples, together with details of their lifestyle. More than 68,000 participants have also had digital pictures taken of the retina in both eyes.

Results from the study will provide new insight into the risk factors for glaucoma in the UK and help shape future treatments.