Conjunctival biopsies were obtained at the time of filtration surgery from 90 patients with glaucoma; 45 of these patients were black and 45 white. Forty nine of the patients (25 black, 24 white) had undergone a primary trabeculectomy. Comparisons between black and white patients were made with respect to the results of surgery and differences in conjunctival cell profile. In agreement with many authors, trabeculectomy was found to be less successful in black patients (67% compared with 80%), although this finding was not statistically significant by survival analysis. In addition, conjunctiva from black patients was found to contain a greater number of macrophages and a smaller number of both mast cells and goblet cells in comparison with white patients. There was a tendency for conjunctiva from black patients to contain more fibroblasts. Conjunctiva obtained from the patients whose filtration surgery subsequently failed was found to contain more fibroblasts, macrophages, and basal epithelial pale cells. A greater number of conjunctival macrophages and possibly fibroblasts in black patients may partially explain the tendency for a lower success rate of filtration surgery in this group of patients.
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