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Current Use of Hormonal Contraceptives May Up Glaucoma Risk

Authors say risk for glaucoma is low and should not discourage use of hormonal contraceptives

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FRIDAY, June 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Women of reproductive age who currently use hormonal contraceptives are at higher risk for developing glaucoma, according to a study published online June 22 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Kate Hogden, M.B.B.S., from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues used data for 4,871,504 women of reproductive age from IQVIA electronic medical records (2008 to 2018) to identify women with glaucoma or ocular hypertension (2,366 cases). Each glaucoma case was matched to four controls according to age, body mass index, and follow-up time (9,464 controls).

The researchers found that regular users of hormonal contraceptives had an elevated risk for glaucoma compared with nonusers, with an adjusted incident rate ratio (aIRR) of 1.57 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.29 to 1.92). The greatest risk was seen among current users (aIRR, 2.38; 95 percent CI, 1.81 to 3.13). Risk fell with past use (aIRR, 1.08; 95 percent CI, 0.82 to 1.43). Glaucoma risk increased with number of prescriptions in the two years prior to first glaucoma diagnosis: one or two prescriptions (aIRR, 0.82; 95 percent CI, 1.81 to 3.13) versus more than four prescriptions (aIRR, 1.54; 95 percent CI, 1.32 to 1.81).

"The risk of glaucoma with hormonal contraceptives is low and should not dissuade women from taking these medications," a coauthor said in a statement. "Women on hormonal contraceptives who experience visual changes should have these symptoms examined by an ophthalmologist."

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