Thursday, October 23, 2008

Men With Intracranial Hypertension Experience Vision Loss More Often Than Women

Men who suffer from idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a cause of increased pressure around the brain, are more likely to have vision loss than women with the same disease, says Beau Bruce, MD, assistant professor, Emory Eye Center and Emory University School of Medicine.

The cause of IIH is not known. Symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears and vision problems (due to swelling of the optic nerves) such as blurriness and double vision. It is most common in young, obese women. If untreated vision loss is possible.

According to research published in the Oct. 15, 2008 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Bruce and his colleagues at Emory, University of Mississippi and Wayne State University retrospectively reviewed the medical records of more than 700 people with the disease. Nine percent of the group was male.

The participants had visual acuity exams, visual field exams and brain scans as part of their evaluations. At both initial and final evaluations men’s vision was worse than the women’s.

The study found that men with IIH were more likely to have visual loss symptoms, while women had headache symptoms more frequently. It was also noted that men had a diagnosis of sleep apnea more frequently (24 percent vs. 4 percent for the women). It is not known how much that condition contributed to the vision problems.

“This study highlights the importance of following men with IIH carefully because they may not have the typical symptoms of raised intracranial pressure to alert the physician to be more aggressive,” says Bruce. “In addition, it emphasizes the importance of screening patients with IIH for sleep apnea when appropriate.”

The study was supported in part by grants from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., and the National Institutes of Health.

Bruce, BB et al, “Idiopathic intracranial hypertension in men” Neurology 2008.
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