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The Blood Pressure-Glaucoma Connection In People With Migraine

October 18, 2010

Adapted from the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Yury S Astakhov, M.D., Ph.D., of Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, studied how day- and at night-time blood pressure levels may be related to the development of glaucoma in people with migraine. Understanding such effects is important for doctors in determining how to treat patients with multiple diseases.

Migraine is a known risk factor for open-angle glaucoma, a disease that can cause blindness due to damage to the optic nerve. The association between the two is stronger for people with "normal tension" glaucoma (NTG), in which the pressure within the eye is normal but optic nerve damage occurs nonetheless. It is also known that glaucoma patients who have low blood pressure at night are more likely to develop visual field loss (reduction of the full range of vision, which occurs first in the peripheral vision).

Dr. Astakhov's team compared day- and night-time systolic and diastolic blood pressures in 12 patients who had migraine and glaucoma (8 with NTG) against 16 patients with migraine but no glaucoma. The only significant difference between the groups was in night time diastolic pressure: migraine patients with glaucoma had excessive decreases–more than 20 percent–in their diastolic pressure levels.

"We conclude that low diastolic blood pressure at night is a possible risk factor for glaucoma in patients with migraine," Dr. Astakhov said.

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