Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men

WEDNESDAY Oct. 15, 2008 -- Men are more likely than women to suffer vision loss as a result of a condition that causes increased pressure in the brain, a U.S. study finds.

People with the condition, known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), have too much cerebrospinal fluid pressure, which can cause severe headaches, a whooshing noise in the ears, swelling of the optic nerves, double vision, and vision loss. The condition affects about one in 5,000 people, and is more common in women.

Study author Dr. Beau Bruce, of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 721 people with IIH. Only 9 percent of the patients were male, but they were two times more likely than female patients to suffer severe vision problems in one or both eyes.

"While IIH occurs less often in men, their increased frequency of severe vision loss compared to women is a major concern," Bruce said in an American Academy of Neurology news release. "Our findings suggest that men with this condition should have more careful monitoring of their eyesight and likely should be treated more aggressively when they do have evidence of vision loss."

The researchers also found that male patients with IIH were more likely than female patients to have diagnosed sleep apnea. More prospective studies are needed to examine the link between sleep apnea and IIH, but doctors should consider referring all IIH patients for sleep studies, Bruce said.

The study was published in the Oct. 15 online edition of Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about intracranial hypertension.

Posted: October 2008


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