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Glaucoma and allergies: ‘should I get rid of my cat?’
  1. Chelvin C A Sng1,2,3,
  2. Keith Barton1,2,4,5
  1. 1Glaucoma Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, United Kingdom
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, National University Health System, Singapore
  3. 3Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore
  4. 4National Institute for Health Research, Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology and Genetics, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College, London
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chelvin C A Sng, Department of Ophthalmology, National University Hospital, 1E Kent Ridge Road, NUHS Tower Block Level 7, Singapore, 119228; chelvin{at}

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This question was posed by an elderly patient with severe glaucoma who recently adopted an adorable kitten. To my cat-loving patient's dismay, the headline of an article in The Telegraph admonished: ‘why owning a cat could lead to blindness’; while another online commentary advised: ‘keep your dog, get rid of your cat’. In view of her advanced glaucoma, should her kitty make way for a little pooch?

This uproar can be traced to a recent study by Tseng et al.1 In a retrospective cross-sectional study of 1652 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the authors analysed the association between IgE levels for a panel of common indoor allergens and glaucoma. Weighted estimates were calculated based on the multistage NHANES sampling design for a weighted total of 83 308 318 participants. It was concluded that sensitisation to the cat and cockroach antigens were associated with increased odds of glaucoma, while the dog antigen …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.