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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is a chronic, progressive, and complicated eye disease.   Glaucoma is the third most common cause of blindness in the United States.  Risk factors for this disease include being 50 years of age or older (4- 10 times her prevalence), race (African Americans are 6- 8% more susceptible), other health problems (higher risk if one has diabetes), and family history (especially parental).  A person with the most common type of glaucoma, primary open angle, seldom has symptoms or complaints.

While there is no cure for this sight-threatening disease, there are new medical and surgical treatments available, and early detection is important.

Some Statistics About Glaucoma

Sources are listed at the bottom of this page.

  • It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. (1)
  • Approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the U.S. (2)
  • About 2% of the population ages 40-50 and 8% over 70 have high eye pressure.
  • Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans. (2)
  • Glaucoma is 5 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. (3)
  • African Americans ages 45-65 are 14 to 17 times more likely to go blind from glaucoma than Caucasians with glaucoma in the same age group.
  • The most common form, open-angle glaucoma, accounts for 19% of all blindness among African Americans compared to 6% in Caucasians. (4)
  • Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.
  • Estimates put the total number of suspected cases of glaucoma at over 60 million worldwide. (5)

Sources: (1) Prevent Blindness America; (2) National Eye Health Program/National Institutes of Health; (3) American Academy of Ophthalmology; (4) Racial differences in the cause-specific prevalence of blindness in east Baltimore. N Engl J Med. 1991 Nov 14;325(20):1412-7; (5) Quigley, “Number of people with glaucoma worldwide,” 1996

 

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