Race, ethnicity and prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma

J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 Oct;98(10):1626-9.


Background: Recently, some authors pooled data from studies on the Dutch, Australians and Americans of European origin in an attempt to predict the prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) in the United States.

Purpose: To examine potential ethnic diversity in the prevalence of POAG among populations of the "same race."

Methods: Medical literature was searched, and 11 population-based studies on populations of African origin and five on populations of European origin were identified.

Results: The prevalence of POAG was significantly higher in white Australians than in the Dutch (p<0.001) and was significantly lower (p<0.001) among black populations in South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States than in Ghana, St. Lucia or Barbados. Notably, the prevalence was significantly lower in Afro Caribbeans living in London than in St. Lucia or Barbados (p<0.001). There was, however, inconsistency in the definition of POAG among the different studies.

Conclusions: There is a wide range in the prevalence of POAG among populations of the same "race," which might be attributed to the different methodology and definition of POAG; potential difference in social, behavioral and environmental factors; and/or genetic predisposition. Scrutiny is warranted when pooling data from different ethnic groups of the "same race" in meta-analyses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia / ethnology
  • Europe / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology