Contact with cats and cockroaches may increase the risk for glaucoma, but contact with dogs could guard against the eye disease, say authors of a study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
The researchers, who are from the University of California, Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, analyzed data from 1,678 people enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and looked at the association between serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels for several common indoor allergens (including dust mites, and cat, dog and cockroach allergens) and glaucoma.
They found that study participants with glaucoma had significantly higher levels of IgE when compared with people who did not. Because the IgE level is elevated in some immunological disorders, the data from the new study raises the possibility that the immune system may play a role in glaucoma.
Biochemical or physical attributes of cat and cockroach allergens may trigger antibodies targeting the optic nerve, while properties related to dog allergens may be different because those animals spend more time outdoors, the researchers said.