Profiles of obesity, weight gain, and quality of life in idiopathic intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri)

Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 Apr;143(4):635-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2006.12.040.


Purpose: Obesity and weight gain are known risk factors for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH; or pseudotumor cerebri). The authors examined profiles of body mass index (BMI) and patterns of weight gain associated with IIH. They also examined vision-specific health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in newly diagnosed IIH patients and explored the relative contribution of obesity and weight gain to overall HRQOL in this disorder.

Design: Matched case-control study.

Methods: Female patients with newly diagnosed IIH (n = 34) and other neuro-ophthalmologic disorders (n = 41) were enrolled in a case-control study to assess patterns of self-reported weight gain. The HRQOL was examined using the 25-Item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25) and the SF-36 Health Survey (Physical Components Summary and Mental Components Summary [MCS]).

Results: Higher BMIs were associated with greater risk of IIH (P = .003, logistic regression analysis adjusting for case-control matching), as were higher percentages of weight gain during the year before symptom onset (P = .004). Moderate weight gain (5% to 15%) was associated with a greater risk of IIH among both obese and nonobese patients. Obesity and weight gain influenced the relation between HRQOL and IIH only for subscale scores reflecting mental health (SF-36 MCS). The NEI-VFQ-25 and SF-36 subscale scores were lower in IIH compared with other neuro-ophthalmologic disorders and published norms.

Conclusions: Higher levels of weight gain and BMI are associated with greater risk of IIH. Even nonobese patients (BMI <30) are at greater risk for IIH in the setting of moderate weight gain. Vision-specific and overall HRQOL are affected to a greater extent in IIH than in other neuro-ophthalmologic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / etiology*
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Gain*