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    Poor oral health may be associated with POAG

    Study raises possibility that systemic adverse effects may impact eye health


    Testing the hypothesis

    To investigate the hypothesis that poor oral health may have systemic effects that may also adversely affect the eye, the researchers analyzed 26 years of data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), which was designed to determine what factors contribute to long-term health in men. They reviewed data of 40,536 participants who were followed biennially from 1986 to 2012.

    Using information from the 2-year updates, such as reports of periodontal disease, the participants could be categorized as having good oral health versus poor oral health. Researchers could then compare the rates of development of POAG in the two groups over time.

    Related: New technology predicts conversion to POAG

    “We also had a wealth of information on additional health variables, such as body mass index, smoking, and diabetes so that we could account for these factors in our analyses,” Dr. Kang said.          

    The 485 cases of POAG that were confirmed with medical records were classified into subtypes defined by IOP ≥ or < 22 mm Hg and visual field loss pattern at diagnosis (peripheral loss only or early paracentral loss). Multivariate rate ratios adjusted for key covariates with 95% confidence intervals were estimated.

    More: Microstent approval makes big news in glaucoma world

    Although a modest increased risk of POAG was observed in this study, observational epidemiologic studies alone cannot establish causal relations, and any clinical recommendations are inappropriate at this time, Dr. Kang said.

    “Nevertheless, the findings of the study raise the possibility that systemic adverse effects of poor oral health may also impact eye health, and more confirmatory studies are warranted,” she said.

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    This study follows earlier published studies by several of the co-authors of this paper (Leslie Hyman, PhD, and John Danias, MD, PhD), which found that individuals with glaucoma had higher bacterial loads and fewer teeth than those without glaucoma. Because the earlier work had a small sample size and was conducted in a clinic-based rather than a population-based study sample, the authors were interested in collaborating on a larger study using the HPFS data.

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