Exfoliative Glaucoma Leads to Hearing Loss

New York, NY – According to data released at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolarynology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation in Boston, patients who have exfoliative glaucoma are more likely to suffer hearing loss than are patients with primary open-angle glaucoma.  One doctor, Vassiliki Paliobei from Aristotelion University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and his associates found that pathologic auditory brainstem responses, or the response of brainstem function in response to an auditory click stimuli, were four times more common in exfoliative glaucoma (XFG) than in primary open-angle glaucoma. (POAG). In addition, the auditory threshold was elevated in XFG, but not in POAG.

It is believed that XFG is caused by fibrilogranular deposits that mechanically block aqueous fluid from exiting the rear chamber of the eye. This leads to a rise in intraocular pressure. Intraocular pressure and visual field loss are higher in XFG than in POAG. According to Dr. Paliobei, exfoliation is a systemic condition that affects primarily the eyes, but it is also associated with abnormalities of the “basement membrane” in epithelial cells throughout the body.

Because of the connection between epithelial cells and exfoliation, Dr. Paliobei and his associates are studying the auditory pathway to try and locate any possible dysfunction that might support this systemic nature.

There were 110 patients evaluated who had XFG and 85 who had POAG with an average age of 66 years. Dr. Paliobei found that auditory brainstem response central transmission time was abnormal in nearly 80% of the XFG patients and over 20% of the PAOG patients. In the XFG patients, the abnormal auditory response had much higher thresholds in several frequencies measured by KHz, and in the mean pure-tone average. There was no significant difference in any of the thresholds for POAG patients.

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