Dietary Fat Intake Influences Glaucoma Risk

March 1, 2018

Increased daily intake of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are associated with a decreased risk of glaucoma, the results of a recent study show.

To investigate the potential association between vision health and dietary intake among older adults, the authors of the study drew questionnaire data from respondents in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008 database. Participants also had available results from laboratory tests and eye examinations.

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Ultimately, 83,643,392 participants were included in the study, of whom 3,076,410 (3.7%) met Rotterdam criteria for having glaucoma.

In this cohort, older age was associated with the likelihood of having glaucoma (61.4 vs 53.7 years), whereas increased daily intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (odds ratio [OR] 0.06) and docosahexaenoic acid (OR 0.06) were associated with a decreased risk of glaucoma.

However, the researchers observed a significantly higher risk of glaucoma among participants whose daily total dietary PUFA intake levels fell into the second (OR 2.84) and third quartiles (OR 2.97).

“Increased daily dietary consumption levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were associated with lower likelihood of glaucomatous optic neuropathy,” the researchers concluded. “However, consumption levels of total PUFAs in the higher quartiles were associated with a higher risk of glaucoma, which may have resulted from the relative intakes of ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids and other confounding comorbidities.”

“This study also hypothesizes that increasing the proportion of dietary ω-3 consumption levels while controlling overall daily PUFA intake may be protective against glaucoma,” they added. “However, longitudinal studies or randomized clinical trials are needed to assess these hypotheses.”

—Christina Vogt


Wang YE, Tseng VL, Yu F, et al. Association of dietary fatty acid intake with glaucoma in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(2):141-147. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.5702.