After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. Half of those with glaucoma don’t know they have it.
- Glaucoma strikes earlier and progresses faster in African Americans.
- The risk for glaucoma is 20% higher if glaucoma is in your family.
African Americans belonging to any of these risk groups have an even greater risk of developing glaucoma:
- Over age 40
- Extreme nearsightedness
- Prolonged steroid use
Glaucoma occurs about five times more often in African Americans. Blindness from glaucoma is about six times more common. In addition to this higher frequency, glaucoma often occurs earlier in life in African Americans — on average, about 10 years earlier than in other ethnic populations.
African Americans should get a thorough check for glaucoma every one to two years after age 35.- Glaucoma Research
African-Americans with glaucoma voice need for education
African-American glaucoma patients wish to have more information on glaucoma, and most of them would like to receive it from their doctors, according to a study carried out by a team at the University of North Carolina.
The study included 49 patients who were scheduled for their routine glaucoma visit at a single private clinic. Through a questionnaire, they were guided to express their needs and wishes in relation to their condition, what they would like to know better, what information they would like to have, where and from whom.
The most common questions patients had were about prognosis, intraocular pressure, ways of storing medications, side effects of medications and predicted duration of treatment. This is in spite of having had glaucoma for more than 5 years, the authors noted.
The majority of patients expressed the need for more educational programs and wished to have them at their doctor’s office. Other places mentioned were community centers, senior citizen centers and church. Internet was a choice for patients younger than 70 years.
Ninety percent of the patients said they would prefer doctors as educators, an overwhelming preference over technicians, nurses and pharmacists. Topics of greatest interest were glaucoma medications, what is glaucoma and what does it mean to be affected, how to use drops and what is IOP.
“[Eye care] practices should consider offering educational programs to improve patient understanding of their glaucoma and enhance satisfaction with care,” the authors wrote. They added that “educational programs may also help reduce racial disparities in clinical outcomes for glaucoma patients.”….
Disclosure: The authors reported no financial disclosures