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Glaucoma in the English-speaking Caribbean

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The Barbados Eye Studies have provided the most comprehensive information on the major eye diseases in African origin populations to date. Black Barbadians have among the highest rates of primary openangle glaucoma (OAG) reported to date in a population-based study (7.0%). Incidence rates of OAG over a nine-year follow-up period were 0.5% per year, and two to five times higher than reported in predominantly Caucasian populations. Risk factors for OAG included older age, male gender, higher intraocular pressure, positive glaucoma family history, in addition to lean body mass and a positive cataract history. Low blood pressure to intraocular pressure relationships were also found to increase OAG risk, suggesting an aetiologic role for low vascular perfusion of the optic nerve. Recent analyses revealed a region on chromosome 2 associated with increased OAG risk, which has potential implications for early diagnosis and treatment. Approximately 50% of Barbadians with OAG were unaware of having the disease in the baseline study and this situation remained unchanged nine years later. Open-angle glaucoma causes painless, irreversible loss of vision and there are clear reasons why screening may be of particular public health importance in high risk African descent populations, given the benefits of early detection and appropriate treatment. There are data that suggest that it would be cost-effective to conduct Open-angle glaucoma screening in Barbados and this has implications for policy and care, with the ultimate aim of reducing glaucoma-related blindness.
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e-Published: 03 Feb, 2014
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