GLAUCOMA

Eye drops seem to stave off vision-stealing disease.

* THE QUESTION When the fluid that normally flows in and out of the eye drains too slowly, pressure builds up. Known as ocular hypertension, this can lead to glaucoma, a major cause of vision loss. Might pressure-lowering eye drops keep this from happening, especially among blacks, who are five times more likely than whites to develop glaucoma?

* THIS STUDY randomly assigned 408 black adults between ages 40 and 80 to either simple observation or daily treatment with eye drops. All participants had relatively normal vision and no signs of glaucoma, but they did have ocular hypertension in at least one eye. All commercially available pressure-lowering drops were included in the study. After an average of 61/2 years, about 8 percent of those using eye drops had developed glaucoma, compared with 16 percent of the others.

* WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People at high risk for glaucoma, which includes blacks over the age of 40, everyone older than 60 and anyone with a family history of the disease.

* CAVEATS The study did not measure any effect that high blood pressure or diabetes among some participants might have had on the results; these conditions can increase the risk for glaucoma. Results may be different for other racial groups.

* BOTTOM LINE People at risk of glaucoma may want to ask their doctor about pressure-lowering eye drops.

* FIND THIS STUDY June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology; abstract available online at www.archophthalmol.com.

* LEARN MORE ABOUT glaucoma at www.nei.nih.gov and at www.glaucomafoundation.org.

Depression

Teenagers may benefit from interpersonal psychotherapy.

* THE QUESTION Teens with depression can be treated with various types of therapy or medication. However, most American teens who need treatment for depression do not get it. Might special therapy help depressed teens?

* THIS STUDY randomly assigned 63 adolescents diagnosed as depressed to receive one of two types of treatment once weekly from social workers and psychologists at school clinics: interpersonal psychotherapy, which focused on strategies for dealing with current problems, or normal clinic treatment, which usually was individual or group counseling. Participants averaged 15 years old, were mostly girls and predominantly Hispanic. After 12 weeks, those who had gotten interpersonal psychotherapy had fewer symptoms of depression and showed more improvement -- measured by such things as dating and family interaction -- than the others.

* WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Teenagers and their parents. An estimated one of every eight teens experiences depression at some point. It's more common among girls than boys.

* CAVEATS The study did not indicate whether results differed by age or sex of participants.

* BOTTOM LINE Parents of teens who might be depressed may want to ask their doctor about interpersonal psychotherapy.

* FIND THIS STUDY June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry; abstract available online at www.archgenpsychiatry.com.

* LEARN MORE ABOUT teenagers and depression at http://kidshealth.org/teen (search for "depression") or at www.nimh.nih.gov (search for "teen depression").

acne

Pulsed-dye laser treatment may not improve condition of skin.

* THE QUESTION With nearly everyone experiencing acne at some time, the demand is steady for effective treatments, especially those that are easy to use and free of side effects. Might pulsed-dye laser treatment -- in which the skin is exposed to short bursts, or pulses, of light -- be a good option?

* THIS STUDY randomly assigned 40 people with facial acne to receive one or two laser treatments to one side of the face. Participants were between 13 and 31 years old and were not using oral, topical or systemic acne medications. Twelve weeks later, the number of lesions on the laser-treated and untreated sides of the face differed minimally, if at all, in both groups. Also, three dermatologists who examined photographs of the participants taken at the beginning, middle and end of the study rated the treated and untreated sides virtually the same.

* WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Anyone with acne. Nearly 85 percent of people develop acne between the ages of 12 and 24.

* CAVEATS About 18 percent of the participants requested and received a reduced treatment because of discomfort. The standard dosing for this study had the laser deliver 385 pulses over 10 to 12 minutes. People with especially mild acne were not included in the study; whether they would see the same results from laser treatment is unclear. Also uncertain is whether increasing the treatment would be beneficial. Lasers were donated by ICN Pharmaceuticals.

* BOTTOM LINE People with acne may want to investigate the variety of treatments available before deciding on a particular therapy.

* FIND THIS STUDY June 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association; abstract available online at http://jama.ama-assn.org.

* LEARN MORE ABOUT acne at www.niams.nih.gov (search for "acne") and at www.derm-infonet.com/acnenet.

-- Linda Searing