Glaucoma in Africa: size of the problem and possible solutions

J Glaucoma. 2009 Feb;18(2):124-8. doi: 10.1097/IJG.0b013e318189158c.


Purpose: To obtain an estimate of the magnitude of the problem of glaucoma in sub-Saharan Africa, and to evaluate the existing evidence for including glaucoma as a priority disease in our Vision 2020 programs in Africa.

Methods: A Pubmed search was carried out using "glaucoma prevalence Africa," "glaucoma presentation Africa," "glaucoma blindness Africa," "glaucoma screening Africa," and "glaucoma treatment Africa" as key words.

Results: Most glaucoma in Africa is primary chronic open angle glaucoma, it may occur at an earlier age, it may be associated with a higher intraocular pressure, it may be more rapidly progressive, and it may present late. The prevalence of glaucoma in East, Central, and Southern Africa can be conservatively estimated to be 10,000 people for every 1 million population. This prevalence may be higher in West Africa. The annual incidence of glaucoma can be conservatively estimated to be 400 new cases for every 1 million population. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataract, responsible for up to 30% of blindness. Case detection of glaucoma could be carried out at both the primary and secondary level. Primary trabeculectomy with mitomycin C or beta irradiation adjunct may be a suitable treatment. Cases could be followed up after surgery by mid-level eye care workers, using the intraocular pressure as the indicator for adequacy of control, and using a glaucoma register to identify and trace defaulters.

Conclusions: Glaucoma should be included as a priority disease in Vision 2020 programs in Africa.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Risk Factors