Purpose of review: Observational studies from different countries have shown that populations of East Asian origin have a higher frequency of primary angle-closure glaucoma compared with those of European or African descent. As half of all cases of glaucoma reside in Asia, and with primary angle-closure glaucoma carrying a higher rate of visual morbidity, primary angle-closure glaucoma poses an important public health problem; however, the inconsistent use of techniques and definitions to detect and diagnose primary angle-closure glaucoma has resulted in difficulties in interpreting the accuracy and comparability of such data. Therefore it is important to review these studies in the light of a consistent classification system.
Recent findings: There are increasing reports that support previous findings on the incidence and prevalence of primary angle-closure glaucoma in different ethnic groups. There have also been further investigations into the mechanism and natural history of primary angle-closure glaucoma in Asian populations.
Summary: International investigations into primary angle-closure glaucoma have demonstrated reproducible evidence that ethnic variations do exist. Cross-sectional studies in this area have also suggested that differences in anterior chamber depth, together with its association with peripheral anterior synechiae, may be part of the underlying mechanism behind these differences. The ideas generated need to be further explored with longitudinal data of changes in anterior chamber depth and peripheral anterior synechiae in different populations. The detailed mechanisms behind the development of angle-closure and primary angle-closure glaucoma should also be investigated.