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Glaucoma in China: how big is the problem?
  1. Paul J Foster,
  2. Gordon J Johnson
  1. Department of Epidemiology and International Eye Health, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, and the Glaucoma Research Unit, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK
  1. Paul J Foster, Department of Epidemiology and International Eye Health, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London EC1V 9EL, UKp.foster{at}


AIMS To derive preliminary estimates for the number of adults in China suffering from glaucoma, and project the burden of visual morbidity attributable to primary and secondary glaucoma.

METHODS Age and sex specific data from two population surveys were applied to US Census Bureau population estimates for urban and rural China. It was assumed that data from Singapore were representative of urban China, and those from Mongolia were representative of rural China.

RESULTS It was estimated that 9.4 million people aged 40 years and older in China have glaucomatous optic neuropathy. Of this number, 5.2 million (55%) are blind in at least one eye and 1.7 million (18.1%) are blind in both eyes. Primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG) is responsible for the vast majority (91%) of bilateral glaucoma blindness in China. The number of people with the anatomical trait predisposing to PACG (an “occludable” drainage angle) is in the region of 28.2 million, and of these 9.1 million have significant angle closure, indicated by peripheral anterior synechiae or raised intraocular pressure.

CONCLUSIONS This extrapolation of data from two east Asian countries gives an approximate number of people in China suffering from glaucoma. It is unlikely that this crude statistical model is entirely accurate. However, the authors believe the visual morbidity from glaucoma in China is considerable. PACG is probably the leading cause of glaucoma blindness in both eyes, and warrants detailed investigation of strategies for prevention.

  • glaucoma
  • China

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