According to a new research project in the United States, close contact with cats and cockroaches can significantly increase your risk of glaucoma. Conversely, the same study showed a correlation between dogs and a decreased risk of the eye condition.
Researchers from the University of California, have drawn what they believe is a link between the role of the immune system and the eye disease, glaucoma. Following a large study of just over one and a half thousand people, the project looked to analyse the levels of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, produced by the body, against those with and without glaucoma, and their contact with certain types of animals or living creatures.
IgE is an antibody found in the human body which can play a significant role in a persons allergies. The reaction of the allergy can be noticed when IgE binds to the allergen and causes the body to release substances which can cause inflammation. When the binding occurs with mast cells, a variety of reactions can occur. One such condition which can be attributed to this reaction is, allergic asthma.
- 1,678 people analysed
- Subjects were aged between 50 and 60 years old, due to risk factors increasing with age
- 5.1% of those analysed suffered from glaucoma
The correlation between IgE, cats and cockroaches and glaucoma was apparent when researchers saw the following findings:
- Glaucoma sufferer - 14.3% increased IgE levels to cats
- Glaucoma sufferer - 19.1% increased IgE levels to cockroaches
- Non glaucoma sufferer - 10% increased IgE levels to either species
This showed that in the case of cockroaches, the body was producing higher levels of IgE, the allergic antibody, in almost double the percentage of people with glaucoma as opposed to those who didn't have the eye condition.
Dog lovers may rejoice however. The same study also showed that out of glaucoma suffers, only 6% showed an increase in IgE levels but more importantly, this was LOWER than the 9.2% of those without glaucoma, showing that contact with dogs might actually have a positive guarding impact on the disease.
The full report can be found in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.