Jae H.Kang, ScD

A study led by Jae H.Kang, ScD, BWH Channing Division of Network Medicine, found that risk of exfoliation glaucoma (EG)—the most common type of secondary glaucoma —may be lower with higher total folate intake.

The researchers analyzed more than 24 years of longitudinal data from a subset of 78,980 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,221 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Participants were 40 years of age or older, did not have glaucoma, reported eye examinations, and completed diet questionnaires which included questions on their intake of B vitamins (folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12).

In pooled analyses, vitamins B6 and B12 intake was not associated with EG or suspected exfoliation glaucoma (SEG) risk. However, the researchers observed a significant trend of reduced risk in participants reporting higher folate intake, noting that patients in the highest folate quintile (median intake greater than approximately 600 micrograms per day) were 25 percent less likely to be at risk for EG/SEG compared to those in the lowest quintile (median intake of less than approximately 300 micrograms per day). The association was strongest with supplemental folate intake.

“Higher total folate intake was associated with a suggestive lower risk for EG/SEG, supporting a possible causal role of homocysteine in EG/SEG,” the authors write.

Moreover, the researchers also noted a suggestive protective association between multivitamin use and EG/SEG risk. Participants who reported a greater frequency of multivitamin use (taking vitamins at least six times per week) versus those that did not take multivitamins were 16 percent less likely to be at risk for EG/SEG.

The study was published May 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Ophthalmology.