December 17, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT: Karen Blum
Glaucoma Among Mexican-Americans
Glaucoma is more common among U.S. Hispanics than previously thought and is the leading cause of blindness in this growing ethnic group, according to a national study led by Johns Hopkins researchers.
Results of the study, published in the December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, show the incidence of glaucoma among a group of Mexican-Americans in the Southwest ranged from 0.5 percent in those ages 41 to 49 to more than 12 percent in those age 80 and up. Sixty-five percent of those affected by glaucoma were women.
"Only 38 percent of those who had glaucoma were aware of their disease, compared with an estimated 50 percent to 70 percent of other Americans with the disease," says lead author Harry A. Quigley, M.D., director of the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology at Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute. "As the Hispanic population increases, and as it ages, this will become a larger public health issue."
The cost of care and the distrust of majority culture are potential barriers to care for this group, Quigley adds.
The study was part of the National Eye Institute's Proyecto VER (Vision Evaluation
and Research). It looked at vision problems among 4,774 Mexican-Americans age
40 and older living in Tucscon and Nogales, Ariz. Participants were randomly
selected based on information from the 1990 census. They filled out a health
questionnaire and were evaluated in a clinic.