Glaucoma in atomic bomb survivors

Radiat Res. 2013 Oct;180(4):422-30. doi: 10.1667/RR3273.2. Epub 2013 Sep 23.


Radiation has been associated with increases in noncancerous diseases. An effect of low-dose radiation on the prevalence of clinically detected glaucoma has not been previously reported. We therefore investigated the prevalence of glaucoma in A-bomb survivors and its possible association with radiation dose. A total of 1,589 people who participated in the clinical examination program for A-bomb survivors at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) between October 2006 and September 2008 and who had reconstructed radiation doses, were recruited into this cross-sectional screening study. The prevalence of glaucoma and its dose-response relationship to A-bomb radiation were measured. Each subject underwent an initial screening consisting of an interview and ophthalmological examination. Questionable cases with any indication of ocular disease, including glaucoma, were referred to local hospitals for more comprehensive evaluation. A diagnosis of glaucoma was made based on specific optic disc appearance, perimetric results and other ocular findings. Of 1,589 eligible people, we detected 284 (17.9%) cases of glaucoma overall, including 36 (2.3%) cases of primary open-angle glaucoma with intraocular pressure levels greater than 21 mmHg, 226 (14.2%) cases of normal-tension glaucoma and 25 (1.6%) cases of primary angle-closure glaucoma. Seven glaucoma risk factors were examined as potential confounders but only two needed to be included in the final model. Binary regression using a generalized estimating equation method, with adjustment for gender, age, city, cataract surgery or diabetes mellitus, revealed an odds ratio at 1 Gy of 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.11-1.53, P = 0.001) in the case of normal-tension glaucoma, but no association for other types of glaucoma. The prevalence of normal-tension glaucoma may increase with A-bomb radiation dose, but uncertainties associated with nonparticipation (59% participation) suggest caution in the interpretation of these results until they are confirmed by other studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Nuclear Weapons*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*