Did you know that African Americans are more prone to develop glaucoma? African Americans are actually five times more likely to develop glaucoma and six times more likely to have glaucoma-related blindness. On average, African Americans develop glaucoma 10 years earlier in life, and the disease often progresses faster than in individuals of other ethnicities.
Next to cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. Because open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma) can develop without pain or symptoms, glaucoma is nicknamed the sneak thief of sight. Sadly, only about half of all glaucoma sufferers are aware that they have the disease. By the time there are symptoms present, it is too late because permanent vision loss has already occurred.
Family history can play a significant role in glaucoma development and can increase risk as much as twenty percent. African Americans in any of the following groups are at an even greater risk for glaucoma:
- Over the age of 40
- Extreme nearsightedness
- Prolonged steroid use
Because African Americans are at such an elevated risk, annual or bi-annual glaucoma checks are recommended after the age of 35. The best way to avoid glaucoma-related vision loss is through routine comprehensive eye exams. Besides testing for glaucoma, comprehensive eye exams test for cataracts, refractive errors, focusing problems and many other eye diseases.
If you would like to find a qualified eye care specialist in your area, please use our physician locator tool. Make a commitment to healthy vision by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam to prevent glaucoma (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).