Study: Beta-Blockers May Increase Risk of Glaucoma in Some Patients

a doctor himself
Researchers investigated an association between blood pressure medications and glaucoma.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020, being held virtually from November 13 to 15, 2020. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in ophthalmology. Check back for more from the AAO 2020.

The use of systemic beta-blockers (systemic antihypertensive medications) in patients with low mean arterial pressure (MAP) is associated with glaucoma, according to a scientific poster presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 conference.

Using the data of 4025 respondents aged 40 and older of the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers performed survey-weighted logistic regressions to determine whether there was an association between self-reported use of blood pressure (BP) medications and glaucoma diagnoses among the study population.

Neither a hypertension diagnosis nor the patients’ mean arterial pressure (MAP) independently was significant with increased risk of glaucoma. However, the use of systemic beta-blockers was significantly associated with glaucoma (odds ratio (OR): 1.04; 95% CI, 1.002-1.07) in the patients who had a MAP that was lower than 93 (and a blood pressure lower than 120/80). To be precise, patients who take a beta-blocker while having low MAP (less than 93) have approximately a 4% increase in the odds of having glaucoma.

This effect was reproduced in patients with diastolic BP less than 80, but not with systolic BP less than 120.

They also noted that self-reported diabetes (OR: 1.03; 95% CI, 1.005-1.05) and age-related macular degeneration (OR 1.02; 95% CI, 1.001-1.05) were both significantly associated with glaucoma, while high cholesterol or statin use were not.


Lin WV, Parikh A, Wang SY. Glaucoma, blood pressure and medications: insights from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Presented at: American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 Annual Meeting; November 13-15, 2020. Poster PO151.

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