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Eye (Lond). 2011 May;25(5):633-41. doi: 10.1038/eye.2011.34. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Female reproductive factors and primary open-angle glaucoma in the Nurses' Health Study.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 243 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



The purpose of this study was to explore the relation between age at menarche, parity, and oral contraceptive (OC) use, and primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).


We followed 79 440 women in the Nurses' Health Study prospectively from 1980 to 2006 and identified 813 cases of incident POAG. Eligible participants were ≥40 years old, free of POAG at baseline, had information on reproductive history, and reported receiving eye examinations during follow-up. Relevant exposure data and POAG risk factors were updated using biennial questionnaires. We used proportional hazards models to calculate multivariable rate ratios (MVRRs) of POAG and 95% confidence intervals (CI).


In multivariable analysis, there were no significant linear trends between age at menarche (P for trend=0.65) or reproductive duration defined as time between age at menarche and menopause (P for trend=0.30) and POAG. Although ever using OCs was not associated with POAG risk (MVRR=1.14; 95% CI, 0.98, 1.34), ≥5 years of OC use was associated with a modest 25% increased risk of POAG (MVRR=1.25; 95% CI, 1.02, 1.53; P for linear trend=0.04). Furthermore, among past OC users, a shorter time since stopping OC use was also associated with an increased risk of POAG (P for linear trend=0.02). Parity was not associated with POAG risk.


The ≥5 years of OC use was associated with a modestly increased risk of POAG. These data add further support for a role of circulating estrogen in the pathogenesis of POAG.

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