Inhaled corticosteroids, family history, and risk of glaucoma

Ophthalmology. 1999 Dec;106(12):2301-6. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(99)90530-4.


Objective: Until recently, inhaled corticosteroids were not considered to cause elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), although topical and oral corticosteroids have been shown to do so in susceptible individuals. The authors aimed to (1) identify whether an association existed between inhaled corticosteroid use and elevated IOP or open-angle glaucoma and (2) determine whether this effect may have a genetic basis.

Design: Cross-sectional, population-based study of 3654 persons 49 to 97 years of age attending the Blue Mountains Eye Study, near Sydney, Australia.

Methods: A series of questions assessed use of inhaled and other corticosteroids as well as family history of glaucoma. Elevated IOP was assessed using applanation tonometry. Diagnosis of glaucoma was based on automated perimetry defects and optic disc signs but without reference to IOP.

Main outcome measure: Statistical analysis of associations between inhaled corticosteroid use and elevated IOP or glaucoma, by family history, adjusting for other risk factors.

Results: Open-angle glaucoma was diagnosed in 108 subjects, and elevated IOP was found in 160 subjects. In persons with a glaucoma family history, there was a strong association between inhaled corticosteroid use and presence of either glaucoma or elevated IOP (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-5.8). The risk increased with higher doses (OR, 6.3; 95% CI, 1.0-38.6) for persons who used more than four puffs per day. These findings were not explained by concurrent use of oral or ocular corticosteroids. In persons without a family history of glaucoma, no association was found between use of inhaled corticosteroids and glaucoma or elevated IOP.

Conclusions: These findings suggest an association between ever use of inhaled corticosteroids and a finding of elevated IOP or glaucoma in subjects with a glaucoma family history. Patients being treated with inhaled corticosteroids need review by an ophthalmologist if they report a glaucoma family history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Beclomethasone / adverse effects*
  • Beclomethasone / therapeutic use
  • Budesonide / adverse effects*
  • Budesonide / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / chemically induced*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tonometry, Ocular
  • Visual Field Tests


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Budesonide
  • Beclomethasone