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Glaucoma FAQs (cont.)

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Anyone can get glaucoma. This disease affects approximately 3 million people in the United States and more than 60 million people worldwide. Many of these individuals are unaware that they have glaucoma. It is the second leading cause of blindness both in the United States and worldwide.

Glaucoma tends to run in families. If a person has several family members with glaucoma, he or she is at a significantly increased risk of developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is more prevalent as people get older. It is also more common in people with diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), or certain other medical conditions. A person's risk also increases if he or she is severely nearsighted or farsighted or if they have a history of certain eye conditions or eye injuries.

No one knows why certain ethnic groups, such as African Americans, have higher rates of glaucoma that lead to blindness. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Alaskan natives, occurring 6 to 8 times more often than in Caucasians, often in the earlier stages of life. People of Asian origin have a much higher incidence of angle-closure glaucoma than Caucasians or African Americans. In the United States, 90% of glaucoma is of the open-angle type and 10% is of the angle-closure type, while in China and Japan, the two types are approximately equal.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2012

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