The Relationship Between Melanin and Glaucoma: A Case-control Study : Journal of Glaucoma

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The Relationship Between Melanin and Glaucoma: A Case-control Study

Giorgis, Abeba T. MD*; Alsoudi, Amer F. BS†,‡; Alemu, Abiye M. MD*; Tadesse, Tesfaye MD*; Gemida, Jibat MD*; Taye, Kalekirstos MD*; Zeru, Mhretab MD*; Moe, Caitlin A. MS; Stamper, Robert L. MD§; Keenan, Jeremy D. MD, MPH‡,§

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Journal of Glaucoma 29(12):p 1143-1146, December 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001652



In a case-control study, skin pigmentation was not statistically significantly different when comparing glaucoma patients to those without glaucoma.


Darker skin color has been implicated as a risk factor for glaucoma based on previous studies’ subjective assessments of skin pigmentation. This study used objective measurements to determine whether cutaneous pigmentation is a risk factor for glaucoma.


This case-control study was conducted at Menelik II Tertiary Referral Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Patients aged 40 years or older from the glaucoma clinic who were being scheduled for trabeculectomy were enrolled as cases and age-matched patients without glaucoma from other clinics at Menelik II Tertiary Referral Hospital were enrolled as controls. A Dermacatch device was used to capture melanin measurements in triplicate from the inner arm of each participant. The exposure variable of interest was the median of the triplicate skin melanin measurements, in arbitrary units. The outcome of interest was presence of glaucoma.


Agreement between the triplicate inner arm melanin measurements was high, with an intraclass correlation of 0.99 (95% confidence interval, 0.98-0.99). Mean melanin values were 704 units (SD 94) in 76 cases and 694 units (SD 93) in 152 controls. Melanin was not statistically significantly associated with glaucoma after adjusting for sex and season of measurement (ie, dry vs. rainy), with an odds ratio of 1.15 (95% confidence interval, 0.59-2.24) per 100 units of inner arm melanin.


This study failed to find a significant association between skin pigmentation and glaucoma using an objective and reproducible assessment of pigmentation.

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