To investigate, researchers followed nearly 4000 glaucoma-free adults aged 55 or older. Over an average of 10 years, just under three percent developed glaucoma.
Researchers found that among women, each unit increase in body mass index (roughly six pounds for a women of average height and weight), was connected to a seven percent reduction in the risk of developing glaucoma.
There was no evidence that other lifestyle factors, including smoking and drinking habits, were important in participants' glaucoma risk. Nor did education or income appear to play a role.
The findings do not prove that extra pounds, themselves, are protective in women. But researchers say that one possibility is that there is some benefit from the higher estrogen levels that may be found in women with more body fat.
While there appears to be a protective effect from extra body weight, researchers are not suggesting women pack on extra pounds as a way to ward off glaucoma. According to researchers, the best way to prevent vision loss from the disorder is to have regular eye exams and, if glaucoma is found, start early treatment.
The findings, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, back up a U.S. study published last August - the first of its kind to show a link between higher BMI and lower glaucoma risk in women.
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