Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Section 2-A: Epidemiology of Glaucoma.

A. Introduction
Glaucoma represents a significant public health problem. Glaucoma affects more than 67 million people in the world, and approximately 10% of them are estimated to be blind from glaucoma. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. In the United States, glaucoma affects more than 2.2 million people, and is the second leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 40 (the first is macular degeneration).

Glaucoma is not a single disease. There are different types of glaucoma. Glaucoma can be broadly divided into two categories depending on whether or not the drainage angle (called trabecular meshwork) in the front of the eye (called anterior chamber) is open. The angle is formed by the juncture of the cornea and iris. The trabecular meshwork is where the eye fluid (called aqueous humor) normally drains out of the eye. If the drainage angle is open on examination, the patient is said to have “open-angle” glaucoma. If the drainage angle is closed on examination, the patient is said to have “angle closure” glaucoma. Refer to the next chapter (Chapter 3) for detailed description of the eye anatomy, as it relates to glaucoma.
Epidemiology (study of disease in populations) of the open-angle glaucoma is sufficiently different from the angle closure glaucoma that each warrants a separate discussion.


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