International Survey Shows People Over Forty Ignore Risk of Blindness

Geschrieben am 02-10-2007

London (ots/PRNewswire) -

- Global Advocacy Groups Launch Joint Effort to Preserve Eyesight
of Millions At-Risk for Glaucoma

Results of a new international survey reveal that eye exams are
being ignored by many aged over 40. Only two fifths of respondents
had visited an eye specialist in the last year to have their eyes
checked, even though twice as many people feared going blind compared
to heart disease or early death. The survey showed that awareness of
glaucoma was extremely low. A total of 40 percent of people surveyed
were unaware that glaucoma is linked to blindness, even though it is
the second leading cause of blindness. World wide, approximately 6.7
million people are blind from glaucoma, with almost 70 million
affected by the disease.(1),(2)

The survey was launched today as part of the All Eyes on
Glaucoma(TM) campaign, a global initiative sponsored by Pfizer
Ophthalmics and supported by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and
the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) to educate people over
age 40 on how to preserve their vision and recognize their risk of
developing glaucoma. There are a number of types of glaucoma, the
majority of which have high eye pressure and cause vision loss. They
cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve and the eye damage
develops over many years. Lowering eye pressure can prevent or slow
the progression of glaucoma. Treatments are available to decrease eye

By 2020, the number of people with glaucoma is expected to rise to
80 million due to the rapidly growing aging population.(3) The
earlier glaucoma is detected, the greater the potential of limiting
the economic impact of the disease by using appropriate treatment.(4)

"Glaucoma is not just a disease of the elderly. Now is the time to
change the public mindset about glaucoma," said Scott Christensen,
President of the World Glaucoma Patient Association and President and
Chief Executive Officer of The Glaucoma Foundation. "People over the
age of 40 need to make eye health a priority by having a complete eye
examination every two years to ensure detection of glaucoma before
any vision loss is experienced."

Less than half surveyed have undergone an eye pressure check. This
proportion did not increase in the older age groups, even though the
risk of glaucoma increases with age. This was in contrast to blood
pressure, where more respondents discussed blood pressure with their
physician in the older age groups.

"Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of glaucoma can
prevent damage to the optic nerve and preserve healthy vision, which
is why check-ups are so important," said Professor Roger Hitchings,
Professor of Ophthalmology, University College London and Consultant
Ophthalmic Surgeon, Moorfields Eye Hospital. "Everyone should
proactively assess their risk of glaucoma with an eye specialist. A
complete eye exam for glaucoma will include an eye pressure check, an
optic nerve assessment and visual field examination."

All Eyes on Glaucoma Resources

One of the key components of the All Eyes on Glaucoma initiative
is a new, informative website, http://www.AllEyesOnGlaucoma.com,
where people can learn the proper steps to protect their vision,
including the completion of an "Am I At Risk?" questionnaire and
download tools including the "Conversation Starter" which can be
taken to their eye specialist. Visitors will also be directed to
local glaucoma organizations in their area for questions and support

About the International Survey

A multi-country survey of individuals aged 40 and above was
conducted by the GfK Group. The survey included 4,352 people (2,020
males and 2,332 females) in seven countries including Australia,
Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United

Notes to Editors:

About Glaucoma:

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases. The two most common forms

- Open-angle glaucoma - when the pressure in the eye increases
over time due to poor drainage of the aqueous humour.

- Angle-closure glaucoma - when the iris is too close to the
drainage canal (trabecular meshwork).

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but the risk becomes greater as
you age. People who are more likely to develop it:

- Have high eye pressure(5)

- Are markedly nearsighted(5)

- Have a family history of glaucoma(5)

- Are of African descent (open-angle glaucoma)(5)

- Are of Asian descent (angle-closure glaucoma)(1)

- Have high blood pressure(6)

The only modifiable glaucoma risk factor is high eye pressure,
also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). This is the leading cause
of glaucoma, although it is possible to develop the condition without
it. Due to the build-up of natural fluid produced by the eye, high
eye pressure causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, the "cable"
used by the eye to communicate to the brain.(7) High eye pressure may
exist without noticeable symptoms so many people do not know they
have it if their vision is not checked regularly.(8) In fact, people
may not notice vision loss until 40 percent or more of their optic
nerve has been damaged.8 IOP is an easily identifiable risk factor,
however people who fall within the normal IOP range may still be at
risk for glaucoma.

About the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma
Patient Association

Both the WGA and WGPA exist to better the lives of glaucoma
patients around the world. The WGA attempts to optimize the quality
of glaucoma science and care through communication and cooperation
among national and regional Glaucoma Societies, with companies
involved with glaucoma, glaucoma patient organizations and many
others in the glaucoma community, and by the enhancement of glaucoma
management by ophthalmologists around the world. The WGPA works
globally to encourage the establishment of and cooperation among
national Glaucoma Patient Associations worldwide. The group serves as
an umbrella organization to provide useful information to
individuals, health care providers and support groups that are
devoting their efforts to the fight against glaucoma.

About Pfizer Ophthalmics

Pfizer Ophthalmics, a division of Pfizer Inc, is committed to
preserving sight and eliminating preventable blindness. Pfizer
Ophthalmics discovers, develops and provides leading treatments in
ophthalmology to support patients who are at risk of blindness or
suffering from vision impairment, and to serve the health care
professionals who treat them.

(1). World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health
Organization. In Focus, Nov. 1 2004

(2). Congdon NG, Friedman DS, Lietman T. Important Causes of
Visual Impairment in the World Today. JAMA. 2003; 290: 2057-2060.

(3). Quigley HA, Broman AT. The number of people with glaucoma
worldwide in 2010 and 2020. Br J Ophthalmol 2006; 90: 262-267

(4). Lee PP, Walt JG, Doyle JJ et al. A multicenter, retrospective
pilot study of resource use and costs associated with severity of
disease in glaucoma. Arch Ophthalmol 2006; 124(1): 12-19

(5). The Glaucoma Foundation. Who's At Risk? Available at:
http://www.glaucomafoundation.org/Risk.htm. Accessed on August 24,

(6). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guarding Against Glaucoma.
Available at: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/995_glaucoma.html.
Accessed on August 24, 2007.

(7). The Glaucoma Foundation. About Glaucoma. Available at:
http://www.glaucomafoundation.org/about_glaucoma.htm. Accessed on
August 24, 2007.

(8). Distelhorts JS, Hughes GM. Open angle glaucoma. American
Family Physician. 2003; 67(9): 1937-1944

ots Originaltext: All Eyes on Glaucoma(TM) Campaign
Im Internet recherchierbar: http://www.presseportal.de

Tara Breen, Resolute Communications, Tel: +44-(0)-20-7615-1350,
Tara.Breen@resolutecommunications.com; Ainsley Munce, Resolute
Communications, Tel: +44-(0)-20-7357-8187,


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