International Survey Shows People Over Forty Ignore Risk of Blindness

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

    LONDON, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - 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 pressure.
    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,, 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 services.

    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 States.

    Notes to Editors:

    About Glaucoma:

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

    - 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

    About the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient

    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: Accessed on August 24, 2007.

    (6). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guarding Against Glaucoma.
    Available at:
    Accessed on August 24, 2007.

    (7). The Glaucoma Foundation. About Glaucoma. Available at: Accessed on
    August 24, 2007.

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

For further information:

For further information: Tara Breen, Resolute Communications, Tel:
+44-(0)-20-7615-1350,; Ainsley Munce,
Resolute Communications, Tel: +44-(0)-20-7357-8187,

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