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Eye Health Center

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Tight Necktie May Boost Glaucoma Risk

Blood Pressure in Eye Increases With Snugness of Neckwear

Loosen Up continued...

"I have been telling my patients for years that if they have glaucoma, they should not wear tight neckties." Still, although eye pressure increases can be noted after just a few minutes of a wearing a tight necktie, Ritch says that in all likelihood, it would have to be "frequent and prolonged" to likely make tight neckwear a real threat to vision.

Other experts not involved in Ritch's study say that while it duplicates what has long been known -- that a short-term boost in neck pressure produces a sudden and mild increase in eye pressure -- there's no reason to believe that neckties can cause glaucoma.

"Since the study lasted only three minutes, it is impossible to know how long it would take to return to the original eye pressure," says glaucoma specialist Harry A. Quigley, MD, of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

"This research does not present any real evidence that this factor increases risk of glaucoma," he tells WebMD. "It is simply common sense not to wear collars that are so tight that they cut off blood return from the brain. How many men tie their ties to the point of discomfort and leave them that way for prolonged periods?"

Steven J. Gedde, MD, of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, praised the study -- and its research team -- for reminding ophthalmologists that a tight necktie may be along the other "external" factors, such as holding one's breath or having the hiccups, which can temporarily raise intraocular pressure and possibly produce false readings.

"When I measure someone's intraocular pressure, I tell patients not to hold their breath because we know that can cause a (short-term) rise in intraocular pressure. And that could influence how these levels are read and the decided course of treatment," Gedde says. "Wearing a necktie seems to fall under that same category."

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