Racial variations in the prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma. The Baltimore Eye Survey

JAMA. 1991 Jul 17;266(3):369-74.


Objective: --To compare the prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma between black and white Americans.

Design, setting, and participants: --The design was a population-based prevalence survey of a noninstitutionalized black and white population aged 40 years or older from the eastern and southeastern health districts of Baltimore, Md. A multistage random sampling strategy was used to identify 7104 eligible participants, of whom 5308 (2395 blacks, 2913 whites) received an ophthalmologic screening examination. Those with abnormalities were referred for definitive diagnostic evaluation.

Main outcome measure: --Primary open-angle glaucoma was defined based on evidence of glaucomatous optic nerve damage, including abnormal visual fields and/or severe optic disc cupping, and was independent of intraocular pressure.

Main results: --Age-adjusted prevalence rates for primary open-angle glaucoma were four to five times higher in blacks as compared with whites. Rates among blacks ranged from 1.23% in those aged 40 through 49 years to 11.26% in those 80 years or older, whereas rates for whites ranged from 0.92% to 2.16%, respectively. There was no difference in rates of primary open-angle glaucoma between men and women for either blacks or whites in this population. Based on these data, an estimated 1.6 million persons aged 40 years or older in the United States have primary open-angle glaucoma.

Conclusions: --Black Americans are at higher risk of primary open-angle glaucoma than their white neighbors. This may reflect an underlying genetic susceptibility to this disease and indicates that additional efforts are needed to identify and treat this sight-threatening disorder in high-risk communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Black People
  • Black or African American
  • Female
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Random Allocation
  • Sampling Studies