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Men who use cocaine are 45 percent more likely to develop glaucoma, and to develop the eye disease almost 20 years sooner, than men who do not use illegal drugs, according to a new study.

The study of veterans found men who used amphetamines or marijuana were also at increased risk of glaucoma, but cocaine use was most strongly associated with the disease. The veterans who used illegal drugs were at risk of developing open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.

Men who used cocaine developed glaucoma at an average age of 54, compared with 73 years for all veterans. HealthDay notes the study doesn’t prove that using cocaine causes glaucoma. However, the researchers said there is a significantly higher risk for the disease among people with a history of drug abuse.

“The association of illegal drug use with open-angle glaucoma requires further study, but if the relationship is confirmed, this understanding could lead to new strategies to prevent vision loss,” study author Dustin French, PhD, of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Indianapolis, said in a news release.

The findings are published in the Journal of Glaucoma.


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