News Releases

October 22, 2008

Men with Intracranial Hypertension Experience Vision Loss More Often Than Women


Media Contact:
Joy H. Bell, 404-778-3711, jbell@emory.edu

• Men with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), lose vision more than women with the same disease.

• Physicians should be aware of this fact and should carefully evaluate men with IIH thoroughly.

(ATLANTA) Men who suffer from idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a cause of increased pressure around the brain, are more likely to have vision loss than women with the same disease, says Beau Bruce, MD, MS, assistant professor at the Emory Eye Center and Emory University School of Medicine.

The cause of IIH is not known. Symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, and vision problems (due to swelling of the optic nerves) such as blurriness and double vision. It is most common in young, obese women. If untreated, vision loss is possible.

According to research published in the October 15, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Bruce and his colleagues here and at the University of Mississippi and Wayne State University retrospectively reviewed the medical records of more than 700 people with the disease. Nine percent of the group was male. The participants had visual acuity exams, visual field exams, and brain scans as part of their evaluations. At both initial and final evaluations, men’s vision was worse than the women’s.

The study found that men with IIH were more likely to present with visual loss, while women presented with headache more frequently. It was also noted that men had a diagnosis of sleep apnea more frequently (24% vs. 4% for the women). It is not known how much that condition contributed to the vision problems.

“This study highlights the importance of following men with IIH carefully because they may not have the typical symptoms of raised intracranial pressure to alert the physician to be more aggressive,” says Dr. Bruce. “In addition, it emphasizes the importance of screening patients with IIH for sleep apnea when appropriate.”

The study was supported in part by grants from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., and the National Institutes of Health. To see the Neurology® online news release go to:
http://www.aan.com/go/pressroom

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Reference:
Bruce, BB et al, “Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension in Men,” Neurology, 2008.

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