Shahin Yazdani, MD, and his research team evaluated whether patients with ocular pseudoexfoliation syndrome—the most common cause worldwide of the form of glaucoma known as “secondary open angle”—had a higher incidence of hearing loss. In ocular pseudoexfoliation (also called “exfoliation”) syndrome, fibrous white deposits aggregate on the iris, lens and other parts of the eye and can block fluid drainage; this blockage increases intraocular pressure, which can damage the optic nerve. Similar fibrillar deposits have been found in the heart, blood vessels, lung, liver, kidneys and skin of patients with ocular pseudoexfoliation. In addition, pseudoexfoliation has been associated with ischemic heart disease. systemic hypertension, aneurysms, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The researchers hypothesized that the hearing organs might also be affected after noticing hearing disability in many pseudoexfoliation patients.
The case-control study enrolled 83 patients with ocular pseudoexfoliation and 83 controls matched for age and gender. Hearing loss was significantly more prevalent in patients with pseudoexfoliation than controls —-94 percent versus 69.9 percent. Below-average hearing thresholds were also significantly more common in ears of cases versus controls, 88.4 percent and 53.6 percent respectively. As in past studies, no definitive correlation was found between glaucoma and hearing loss. The authors conclude: “The findings of the present study imply that this apparently ocular disorder may truly be a manifestation of a systemic condition that affects multiple organs throughout the body.”
Ophthalmologists are urged to consider the possibility of hearing loss in patients with ocular pseudoexfoliation syndrome and guide them to additional medical care as needed.