IN AFRICAN AMERICANS
studies are conclusive and the human impacts are devastating.
major scientific studies over the last decade find that glaucoma
is at least three to four times more likely to occur in blacks than
whites. And a new study of Medicare claims released in February
finds African Americans were only
half as likely as whites to undergo surgery for late-stage glaucoma,
even though they suffer disproportionately from the disease. Glaucoma
is also the leading cause of blindness in African Americans.
among blacks is an undetected epidemic. That situation needs to
be addressed," said Robert Fechtner, MD, associate professor of
ophthalmology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. "Knowing the risk
factors is the key to minimizing its impact."
glaucoma has no physical symptoms. It can only be detected on examination.
High risk factors for developing glaucoma include a family history,
as well as being African American and over the age of 35. Those
at high risk should have a comprehensive eye exam annually; for
others an eye exam every two years is recommended.
with the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey and the Glaucoma Foundation
of New York, the Glaucoma Division at NJMS will soon be leading
an outreach effort focused on educating African Americans about
glaucoma. This will include providing screening to detect glaucoma
and information about glaucoma treatment.
said some reasons for the disparities in treatment may include a
perceived lack of access to heathcare and inadequate education about