Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment for Americans, affecting as many as 2.2 million people nationwide 1.
Most studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma do not know that they have this potentially blinding condition.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness among African-Americans. There are no symptoms of glaucoma in the early stages of the disease.
Vision loss from this disease is permanent and irreversible. Although glaucoma is incurable, it can be controlled if it is detected and treated early.
Recent studies have confirmed that the rate of glaucoma increases with age and that African-Americans have higher rates of the disease than Whites or Hispanics/Latinos. African-Americans are almost three times more likely to develop visual impairment due to glaucoma than other ethnic groups.
Results from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) suggest that the prevalence of Open-Angle Glaucoma is high among Latinos of Mexican ancestry. Results also reveal an absence of gender-related differences, but they did find that older Latinos have a higher prevalence of open-angle glaucoma than younger Latinos 2.
1. Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group. “Prevalence of Open-angle Glaucoma Among Adults in the United States.” Archives of Ophthalmology 122.4 (2004): 532-38.
2. Varma, R., et al. “Prevalence of Open-angle Glaucoma and Ocular Hypertension in Latinos: The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study.”Ophthalmology 111.8 (2004): 1439-48.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk than others. People at higher risk include people 60 and older, those with a family member, especially a parent or grandparent who have or have had the disease and Hispanics and African-Americans.
Also, having severe nearsightedness, hypertension or diabetes puts you at higher risk because these conditions can contribute to increased eye pressure that damages the optic nerve.
If you have blind spots in your field of vision, you may be experiencing the early signs of glaucoma.
If glaucoma is not caught early in its development through regular eye care exams, the condition can cause total blindness. Sadly, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.