2007-10-02

International Survey Shows People Over Forty Ignore Risk of Blindness


London (ots/PRNewswire) -

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

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

The survey was launched today as part of the All Eyes onGlaucoma(TM) campaign, a global initiative sponsored by PfizerOphthalmics and supported by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) andthe World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) to educate people overage 40 on how to preserve their vision and recognize their risk ofdeveloping glaucoma. There are a number of types of glaucoma, themajority of which have high eye pressure and cause vision loss. Theycause irreversible damage to the optic nerve and the eye damagedevelops over many years. Lowering eye pressure can prevent or slowthe progression of glaucoma. Treatments are available to decrease eyepressure.

By 2020, the number of people with glaucoma is expected to rise to80 million due to the rapidly growing aging population.(3) Theearlier glaucoma is detected, the greater the potential of limitingthe economic impact of the disease by using appropriate treatment.(4)

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

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

"Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of glaucoma canprevent damage to the optic nerve and preserve healthy vision, whichis why check-ups are so important," said Professor Roger Hitchings,Professor of Ophthalmology, University College London and ConsultantOphthalmic Surgeon, Moorfields Eye Hospital. "Everyone shouldproactively assess their risk of glaucoma with an eye specialist. Acomplete eye exam for glaucoma will include an eye pressure check, anoptic nerve assessment and visual field examination."

All Eyes on Glaucoma Resources

One of the key components of the All Eyes on Glaucoma initiativeis 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 anddownload tools including the "Conversation Starter" which can betaken to their eye specialist. Visitors will also be directed tolocal glaucoma organizations in their area for questions and supportservices.

About the International Survey

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

Notes to Editors:

About Glaucoma:

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

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

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

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but the risk becomes greater asyou 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 causeof glaucoma, although it is possible to develop the condition withoutit. Due to the build-up of natural fluid produced by the eye, higheye pressure causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, the "cable"used by the eye to communicate to the brain.(7) High eye pressure mayexist without noticeable symptoms so many people do not know theyhave it if their vision is not checked regularly.(8) In fact, peoplemay not notice vision loss until 40 percent or more of their opticnerve has been damaged.8 IOP is an easily identifiable risk factor,however people who fall within the normal IOP range may still be atrisk for glaucoma.

About the World Glaucoma Association and the World GlaucomaPatient Association

Both the WGA and WGPA exist to better the lives of glaucomapatients around the world. The WGA attempts to optimize the qualityof glaucoma science and care through communication and cooperationamong national and regional Glaucoma Societies, with companiesinvolved with glaucoma, glaucoma patient organizations and manyothers in the glaucoma community, and by the enhancement of glaucomamanagement by ophthalmologists around the world. The WGPA worksglobally to encourage the establishment of and cooperation amongnational Glaucoma Patient Associations worldwide. The group serves asan umbrella organization to provide useful information toindividuals, health care providers and support groups that aredevoting their efforts to the fight against glaucoma.

About Pfizer Ophthalmics

Pfizer Ophthalmics, a division of Pfizer Inc, is committed topreserving sight and eliminating preventable blindness. PfizerOphthalmics discovers, develops and provides leading treatments inophthalmology to support patients who are at risk of blindness orsuffering from vision impairment, and to serve the health careprofessionals who treat them.

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

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

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

(4). Lee PP, Walt JG, Doyle JJ et al. A multicenter, retrospectivepilot study of resource use and costs associated with severity ofdisease 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 24,2007.

(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 onAugust 24, 2007.

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

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

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

All Eyes on Glaucoma(TM) Campaign

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