The first important point to note about this disease is that it is common, occurring in about 1% of the population over the age of 50 years. The second point is that the disease is inherited, and whereas the practice of screening the whole population for the disease is problematic in terms of finance, it is well worth screening the families of patients with the disease if those over the age of 40 years are selected. This leads to the third point, which is that the incidence increases with age, being rare under the age of 40 years. This insidious, potentially blinding disease affects those who are least likely to notice its onset, and elderly patients with advanced chronic open-angle glaucoma are still seen from time to time in eye clinics.
Primary open-angle glaucoma occurs more commonly in high myopes and diabetics; patients with Fuchs' corneal endothelial dystrophy and retinitis pigmentosa also have a higher incidence. Glaucoma is commoner in different racial groups. For example, individuals of African descent, especially those from West Africa and the Caribbean, carry a significantly greater risk of glaucoma.
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