Vitamin Supplements Do Not Appear to Decrease Glaucoma Risk

Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Published Online: Tuesday, May 7, 2013
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Many glaucoma patients take vitamin supplements as part of their therapy, but a new study finds little evidence that they help prevent the condition from developing.

Recent studies have found that 1 in 9 glaucoma patients use complementary and alternative medications, including vitamin supplements, as part of their therapy. However, the results of a study carried out by researchers at the University of California San Francisco and published in the April 2013 edition of Eye provide little evidence that vitamin supplements are associated with decreased odds of developing the condition.
The researchers examined data from 2912 patients older than 40 years who self-reported the presence or absence of glaucoma. The data was drawn from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a national population-based study conducted through interviews. The questions asked elicit information regarding health conditions and medication use, including participants’ multivitamin use and serum levels of multiple vitamins.
The results indicated that diets supplemented with vitamin C were associated with decreased odds of developing glaucoma. However, they showed no association between diets supplemented with vitamins A and E and decreased risk of developing glaucoma. Additionally, the researchers found no connection between serum levels of A, C, or E and decreased risk of developing glaucoma.
The researchers note that their study aligns with earlier studies finding that “there is no compelling evidence in support of antioxidant dietary supplementation as a means of preventing glaucoma disease.” The takeaway for pharmacists: Continue to encourage patients to discuss their complementary and alternative medicine use with all health care clinicians.

Ms. Wick is a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy and a freelance writer from Virginia.

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