Oxygen may be the reason for increased glaucoma risk in African-Americans

Bryan Aldrige

July 18, 2011

Glaucoma, a degenerative ocular condition, can affect anyone regardless of age, but African Americans who are over 60 years old are at a greater risk for developing the disease, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Black people are also six to eight times more likely to have glaucoma than white people and 16 times more likely to lose their vision entirely.

A group of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine recently discovered one of the possible reasons for racial disparity in the development of glaucoma. The scientists measured oxygen levels during eye surgeries, and they found that they eyes of black people had higher levels in all five of the locations around the eye from which they took measurements.

"When we understand the underlying reason for elevated oxygen and how it may damage the eye, we will be in a better position to develop ways to prevent this disease," said Carla Siegfried, one of the lead researchers.

Glaucoma restricts vision, which can increase the risk of injury. An older adult who has glaucoma can consider a personal emergency response system as added security that a medical alert will be sent out if he or she is injured and has no other way to get help.