Glaucoma is still a leading cause of vision loss in the United States despite the availability of pharmacological and surgical interventions. A major barrier to screening is the widespread lack of knowledge about the risk factors associated with the disease. To effectively combat glaucoma, we must not only continue to investigate its pathophysiology but also focus on educating the public.
At the University of Michigan, medical students have been providing glaucoma screenings in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area for the past 3 years and have consistently found the public to be uninformed or even misinformed of facts about glaucoma. In a survey of 108 consecutive individuals attending screenings in 1994, 54% did not know that age was a risk factor for open-angle glaucoma; 60% and 78% were unaware that family history and African-American heritage, respectively, were also risk factors. Fifty-six percent of the individuals surveyed did not realize that the