April 2014

Folate Associated with Decreased Glaucoma Risk

High folate intake is linked to a lower risk of a common secondary type of glaucoma, according to new research.

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions caused by increased intraocular (inside the eye) pressure, or IOP, resulting either from a malformation or malfunction of the eye's drainage system. Secondary glaucomas can develop as complications of other medical conditions, such as inflammation, trauma, previous surgery, diabetes, or a tumor. Pseudoexfoliation syndrome, also called exfoliation glaucoma, occurs when outer layers of the lens flake off and block normal flow of the eye fluid called aqueous humor.

In a new study, researchers evaluated follow-up data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study collected throughout 20 years. Data on 78,980 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 41,221 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study were evaluated. All participants were over 40 years-old and did not have glaucoma at the start of the study.

From the collected data, 399 cases of secondary glaucoma were identified. The researchers found that there was a trend of a 25 percent reduced risk of glaucoma when comparing data for those who consumed the most folate to those who consumed the least. There was also a slight reduced risk for those who reported regular use of multivitamins. Vitamin B6 and B12 intake did not appear to affect the risk for glaucoma.

The authors concluded that higher folate intake might reduce the risk for secondary glaucoma. Additional research is warranted.

For more information about folate, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Kang JH, Loomis SJ, Wiggs JL, et al. A Prospective Study of Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 Intake in Relation to Exfoliation Glaucoma or Suspected Exfoliation Glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr 3.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.

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