The Association of Female Reproductive Factors with Glaucoma and Related Traits: A Systematic Review

Ophthalmol Glaucoma. 2022 Nov-Dec;5(6):628-647. doi: 10.1016/j.ogla.2022.06.003. Epub 2022 Jun 9.


Topic: This systematic review summarizes evidence for associations between female reproductive factors (age at menarche, parity, oral contraceptive [OC] use, age at menopause, and postmenopausal hormone [PMH] use) and intraocular pressure (IOP) or open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

Clinical relevance: Understanding the associations between female reproductive factors and glaucoma may shed light on the disease pathogenesis and aid clinical prediction and personalized treatment strategies. Importantly, some factors are modifiable, which may lead to new therapies.

Methods: Two reviewers independently extracted articles in MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases to identify relevant studies. Eligibility criteria included studies with human subjects aged > 18 years; a measured outcome of either IOP or OAG; a cohort, case-control, cross-sectional, or randomized controlled trial design; a reported measure of association, such as the hazard ratio, relative risk, odds ratio, or mean difference, with an associated confidence interval; and a measured exposure of at least 1 of the following variables: age at menarche, parity, OC use, age at menopause, or PMH use.

Results: We included a total of 27 studies. Substantial differences in study designs, exposure and treatment levels, treatment durations, and variable reporting precluded a meaningful quantitative synthesis of the identified studies. Overall, relatively consistent associations between PMH use and a lower IOP were identified. Estrogen-only PMH use may be associated with lower OAG risk, which may be modified by race. No significant associations were found with combined estrogen-and-progesterone PMH use. No strong associations between parity or age at menarche and glaucoma were found, but a younger age at menopause was associated with an increased glaucoma risk, and adverse associations were identified with a longer duration of OC use, though no overall association with OC use was found.

Conclusions: The association between PMH use and lower IOP or OAG risk is a potentially clinically relevant and modifiable risk factor and should be investigated further, although this needs to be interpreted in the context of a high risk of bias across included studies. Future research should examine associations with IOP specifically and how the relationship between genetic factors and OAG risks may be influenced by female reproductive factors.

Keywords: Estrogen; Glaucoma; HRT; IOP; POAG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glaucoma* / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma* / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma* / etiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy


  • Estrogens