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June 2004

Race and the Risk of Glaucoma

Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(6):909-910. doi:10.1001/archopht.122.6.909

Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that the risk of visualimpairment from glaucoma in persons of African descent far outweighs thatof their white counterparts.1-4 Notonly is the prevalence of glaucoma greater, but the age of onset is earlier,there is more optic disc damage at the time of diagnosis, it is more difficultto treat, and the risk of blindness is higher.1-5 Allthis emphasizes the need for preventive treatment since glaucomatous visionloss is irreversible. Approximately 70% of open-angle glaucoma is associatedwith a history of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), hence the importanceof the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS): if eyes at risk for developingglaucoma can be identified and treated when elevated IOP is identified butbefore optic neuropathy has developed, future disability could be prevented.