Association Between Myopic Refractive Error and Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma: A 2-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2022 Sep 1;140(9):864-871. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2022.2762.


Importance: Refractive error (RE) is the most common form of visual impairment, and myopic RE is associated with an increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Whether this association represents a causal role of RE in the etiology of POAG remains unknown.

Objective: To evaluate shared genetic influences and investigate the association of myopic RE with the risk for POAG.

Design, setting, and participants: Observational analyses were used to evaluate the association between mean spherical equivalent (MSE) RE (continuous trait) or myopia (binary trait) and POAG risk in individuals from the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort. To quantify genetic overlap, genome-wide genetic correlation analyses were performed using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of MSE RE or myopia and POAG from GERA. Potential causal effects were assessed between MSE RE and POAG using 2-sample Mendelian randomization. Genetic variants associated with MSE RE were derived using GWAS summary statistics from a GWAS of RE conducted in 102 117 UK Biobank participants. For POAG, we used GWAS summary statistics from our previous GWAS (3836 POAG cases and 48 065 controls from GERA). Data analyses occurred between July 2020 and October 2021.

Main outcomes and measure: Our main outcome was POAG risk as odds ratio (OR) caused by per-unit difference in MSE RE (in diopters).

Results: Our observational analyses included data for 54 755 non-Hispanic White individuals (31 926 [58%] females and 22 829 [42%] males). Among 4047 individuals with POAG, mean (SD) age was 73.64 (9.20) years; mean (SD) age of the 50 708 controls was 65.38 (12.24) years. Individuals with POAG had a lower refractive MSE and were more likely to have myopia or high myopia compared with the control participants (40.2% vs 34.1%, P = 1.31 × 10-11 for myopia; 8.5% vs 6.8%, P = .004 for high myopia). Our genetic correlation analyses demonstrated that POAG was genetically correlated with MSE RE (rg, -0.24; SE, 0.06; P = 3.90 × 10-5), myopia (rg, 0.21; SE, 0.07; P = .004), and high myopia (rg, 0.23; SE, 0.09; P = .01). Genetically assessed refractive MSE was negatively associated with POAG risk (inverse-variance weighted model: OR per diopter more hyperopic MSE = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.89-0.99; P = .01).

Conclusions and relevance: These findings demonstrate a shared genetic basis and an association between myopic RE and POAG risk. This may support population POAG risk stratification and screening strategies, based on RE information.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / complications
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Myopia* / epidemiology
  • Refractive Errors*