D.N.I.S. News Network - Global cases of the eye disease glaucoma are expected to reach 60 million by 2010 and 80 million by 2020 and people in Asia and Africa will be worst affected, says a recent research study.
"It is a preventable cause of blindness. It is a treatable disease," said Professor Harry Quigley of the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, who reported the findings in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Glaucoma is a condition that can damage the nerve at the back of the eye. If left untreated it may result in blindness. The disorder is more common in people over 60 years old and is second only to cataracts as the leading cause of blindness. It is linked to pressure in the eye which increases a build-up of fluid.
Quigley and Aimee Broman used population data on glaucoma and United Nations predictions on world population to calculate the rates of the disease by age, sex and ethnicity.
"By 2020, India will become second overall in number with glaucoma, surpassing Europe. There will be 6 million more Chinese people with glaucoma," Quigley said in the study.
The illness can be treated with pills, laser surgery, eye drops, eye surgery or a combination of therapies. Quigley and Broman, who estimate 8.5 million people will be blinded by glaucoma by 2010 and more than 11 million by 2020, said treatments available in developed countries could reduce the amount of disability caused by the illness if they were available in poor countries.