Eye Health

Updated 25 July 2018

How common is glaucoma?

Worldwide, glaucoma is the second highest cause of blindness after cataracts, according to the World Health Organization.

Studies performed in South Africa over the past 15 years have confirmed this to be the case in individuals 40 years and older. 

However, unlike cataracts, damage that has occurred before diagnosis is irreversible. As such, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness across the globe.

Across the globe, an estimated 60.5 million people were affected by primary open-angle glaucoma and primary angle-closure glaucoma in 2010, according to a study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

It’s estimated that the number of people with glaucoma will increase to 111.8 million in 2040, disproportionally affecting people in Asia and Africa. 

Reviewed by ophthalmologist Dr Tshilidzi van der Lecq. MBChB (UCT), Mmed (Ophth), FC Ophth (SA). March 2018.


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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