Purpose: To bring together information concerning the epidemiology and the economic and individual burdens of glaucoma.
Design: Interpretive essay.
Methods: Review and synthesis of selected literature published from 1991 through December 2010.
Results: An estimated 3% of the global population over 40 years of age currently has glaucoma, the majority of whom are undiagnosed. Vision loss from glaucoma has a significant impact on health-related quality of life even in the early stages of disease. The overall burden increases as glaucomatous damage and vision loss progress. The economic burden of glaucoma is significant and increases as the disease worsens.
Conclusions: Early identification and treatment of patients with glaucoma and those with ocular hypertension at high risk of developing vision loss are likely to reduce an individual's loss of health-related quality of life as well as the personal and societal economic burdens.
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