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About Glaucoma

See also Topics of Interest maintained on the NYGRI section of the website.

Fast Facts:

  1. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

  2. Approximately 100,000 people are totally blind from glaucoma.

  3. Approximately 300,000 people are blind in one eye.

  4. Approximately 2,000,000 more have some degree of visual loss from glaucoma.

  5. Several million more people have elevated intraocular pressure.

  6. About 2% of the population age 40-50 and 8% over 70 have elevated intraocular pressure.

  7. Some 20 million people in the U.S are susceptible.

  8. Glaucoma affects people of all ages and all races.

  9. Most blindness from glaucoma is needless and could have been prevented if detected and treated in time.

  10. Most patients have no symptoms from glaucoma.

  11. Blindness from glaucoma usually begins with loss of peripheral vision. Central vision is usually maintained until the late stages. By the time the patient notices visual loss, damage is advanced.

  12. Factors which predispose to glaucoma include myopia, black race, and a family history of glaucoma. Thyroid disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure may be associated to some degree.

  13. Intraocular pressure can be measured by a simple office test called tonometry. This test is the only reliable method of detecting elevated intraocular pressure.

  14. Signs of disorders within the eye which could lead eventually to elevated intraocular pressure can be determined by a thorough eye examination by an ophthalmologist.

  15. Fully half of all persons with damage from glaucoma are unaware of it.

  16. In a nationwide phone survey conducted a few years ago by Prevent Blindness America, blindness ranked third after cancer and heart disease as people's major fear.

  17. However, only 20% of people knew that glaucoma was related to elevated pressure within the eye. Another 50% had heard of glaucoma, but weren't sure what it was, while 30% had never heard of it.

  18. Of the 20% who knew about glaucoma, most thought either that people affected could tell because they would have symptoms, that it was easily cured, or that it did not lead to blindness.

  19. Despite that fact that glaucoma is roughly as common as high blood pressure and diabetes, the widespread public lack of familiarity with glaucoma results in thousands of blindness annually, most of which could have been prevented.

Robert Ritch, MD, LLC
455 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022

(212) 477-7540
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