The Effect of Intraocular Pressure-Lowering Medication on Metastatic Uveal Melanomas

Jan Pals, Hanneke W Mensink, Erwin Brosens, Robert M Verdijk, Nicole C Naus, Dion A Paridaens, Emine Kilic, Wishal D Ramdas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: There has been speculation that IOP-lowering medication, which increases aqueous humor outflow, increases the risk of metastatic uveal melanoma (UM). This hypothesis has not been studied previously but is relevant for UM patients who use IOP-lowering medication. The aim of the current study is to assess the association between the use of intraocular pressure (IOP)-lowering medication and the risk of metastatic UM, and mortality.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study, in which patients from the Rotterdam Ocular Melanoma Study were included from 1986 onwards. Medical records were evaluated for use of IOP-lowering medication at baseline (i.e., before diagnosis). For each IOP-lowering medication, we divided patients into two groups for comparison (e.g., patients with alpha2-agonist use and patients without alpha2-agonist use). All patients underwent regular ophthalmic examinations and routine screening for metastasis. Survival analyses were initiated to compare groups in each IOP-lowering medication group. In addition, secondary analyses were performed to examine the association between IOP and the development of metastatic UM, and mortality.

RESULTS: A total of 707 patients were included of whom 13 patients used prostaglandin or pilocarpine at baseline. For alpha2-agonist, beta-blocker, carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, and oral IOP-lowering medication these were 4, 14, 11, and 12 patients, respectively. The risk of metastatic UM (choroid and ciliary body melanoma) among the prostaglandin/pilocarpine users was significantly higher than controls (HR [95% CI]: 4.840 [1.452-16.133]). Mortality did not differ significantly among the IOP-lowering medications groups, except for the prostaglandin or pilocarpine group (HR [95% CI]: 7.528 [1.836-30.867]). If we combined all IOP-lowering medication that increase aqueous humor outflow, the risk (HR [95% CI]) of metastatic UM and mortality was 6.344 (1.615-24.918) and 9.743 (2.475-38.353), respectively. There was an association between IOP and mortality, but not for the onset of metastatic UM.

CONCLUSION: The use of topical prostaglandin or pilocarpine may increase the risk of metastatic UM and mortality compared to patients without prostaglandin or pilocarpine use. Therefore, use of IOP-lowering medication which increases aqueous humor outflow, should be avoided in patients with (presumed) UM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5657
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021


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