Ask Yourself on World Glaucoma Day:

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

World Glaucoma Day 2009

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people are at higher risk than others. They include:

  1. African-Americans over age 40.
  2. Everyone over age 60
  3. People with a family history of glaucoma.
  4. People who are very nearsighted or farsighted

Among African Americans, studies show that glaucoma is:

  1. Five times more likely to occur in African-Americans than in Caucasians.
  2. About four times more likely to cause blindness
  3. Fifteen times more likely to cause blindness in African Americans between the ages of 45-64 than in Caucasians of the same age group.

A comprehensive dilated eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, thinness of the cornea, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy. In some people with certain combinations of these high-risk factors, medicines in the form of eyedrops reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by about half.

Medicare covers an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam for some people at high risk for glaucoma.

What can I do to protect my vision?

Studies have shown that the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease. So, if you fall into one of the high-risk groups for the disease, make sure to have your eyes examined through dilated pupils every two years by an eye care professional.

If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly.
You also can help protect the vision of family members and friends who may be at high risk for glaucoma--African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60; and people with a family history of the disease. Encourage them to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. Remember: Lowering eye pressure in glaucoma's early stages slows progression of the disease and helps save vision.

Source:  National Eye Institute

Media Information

For interviews with Dr. Ritch about World Glaucoma Day, please contact Ms. Jean Thomas at NYEE, 212.979.4274.