UA Study Shows Glaucoma Leading Cause of Blindness
Among Sample of U.S. Hispanics
TUCSON, Ariz. - Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among a sample of U.S. Hispanics, according to researchers at the University of Arizona Department of Ophthalmology.
Proyecto VER (Vision, Evaluation, and Research Project) is the first comprehensive study of vision loss and blindness among U.S. Hispanics. The study, to be published in the April 2002 issue of Ophthalmology, found open-angle glaucoma to be the leading cause of blindness in a random sample of 4,774 Hispanics ages 40 and over in Nogales, Ariz., and Tucson. For U.S. Caucasians, age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness.
The study also found a significant rate of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy among this population of Hispanic Americans. Women were more likely to suffer vision impairment from cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy than men. Interestingly, nearly 75 percent of study participants presenting with impaired vision experienced improved vision with contact lenses or glasses.
"This study underscores the need for early detection of eye disease among Hispanic Americans," said study author Jorge Rodriguez, MD, MPH. Dr. Rodriguez, assistant research professor, UA Department of Ophthalmology, and president and CEO of Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International. "Education and increased access to eye care services by underserved populations will result in improved eyesight in individuals, increased independence and significant long-term savings in health care costs."
Study authors of the study recommend further research to identify obstacles to eye health care are among Hispanic Americans, particularly women. They also suggest additional research on Hispanic populations such as Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans and others.
In addition to the UA Department of Ophthalmology, researchers from the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Research to Prevent Blindness participated in the study. The National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, components of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health, sponsored the study.