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On World Glaucoma Day, Keep an Eye on the Future

Leading Glaucoma Experts are Working Together to Provide Tips to Help Prevent Vision Loss as Glaucoma Prevalence is Rising Rapidly Across the Globe

NEW YORK, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- On the second annual World Glaucoma Day (March 12), leading global glaucoma experts are working together to help educate patients diagnosed with glaucoma and those who may be at risk for the condition. Glaucoma is a worldwide epidemiological challenge affecting approximately four percent of the global population with an estimated 50 percent of glaucoma cases remaining undiagnosed. Research shows that by 2010, an estimated 60.5 million people globally will be living with either angle closure glaucoma (ACG) or primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).

During World Glaucoma Day, experts across the globe are encouraging patients, those individuals potentially at risk for glaucoma, and eye health professionals to utilize resources from sources like the All Eyes on Glaucoma(TM) campaign to recognize and understand the devastating consequences of glaucoma - the world's second leading cause of blindness. The All Eyes on Glaucoma program seeks to help raise awareness globally on World Glaucoma Day and throughout the year. World Glaucoma Day is a joint initiative by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA).

"World Glaucoma Day offers an opportunity to educate patients with glaucoma and those at risk for the disease by raising awareness and providing helpful tips about the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate treatment," said Dr. Remo Susanna, President of the WGA, President of the Latin America Glaucoma Society and President of the Pan American Glaucoma Society.

Five Tips To Help Prevent Vision Loss and Successfully Manage Glaucoma

To support the 2009 World Glaucoma Day activities, Pfizer Ophthalmics is collaborating with leading global glaucoma experts to spread the word about the Five Tips to Help Prevent Vision Loss and Successfully Manage Glaucoma. The "Five Tips" are elements that can serve as useful reminders that patients and eye health professionals can utilize to help ensure successful glaucoma management:

  • Remember to get a Complete Eye Exam including assessment of your Optic Nerve
  • Know your Eye Pressure or Intraocular Pressure (IOP)
  • Take your Medication as prescribed
  • Know your Risk Factors - Raise Awareness about the Disease
  • Visit an Eye Health Professional If you are At Risk - Earlier Diagnosis and Appropriate Treatment may Potentially help Reduce the Overall Impact of Glaucoma.

The All Eyes on Glaucoma campaign also seeks to increase public awareness of risk factors for glaucoma; reinforce the critical importance of having regular, complete eye examinations including assessment of the optic nerve; and emphasize the importance of appropriate treatment at all stages of the disease. One key component of the campaign is the interactive Web site,, which offers tools such as an "Am I at Risk" quiz and a "Conversation Starter" on important questions to ask an eye health professional. In recognition of World Glaucoma Day, leading glaucoma experts will share the "Five Tips" via an interactive video series on

"Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent. If you think you are at risk, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment could provide the best chance of maintaining your vision long term," said Dr. Robert N. Weinreb, Past President of the American Glaucoma Society, Past President of the World Glaucoma Association and Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, USA. "That's why I'm supporting this initiative - I encourage anyone at risk to have regular, complete eye exams that include careful evaluation of the optic nerve and measurement of eye pressure."

Since glaucoma may not demonstrate any early symptoms, it's important to learn the risk factors and to discuss them with an eye health professional. The primary risk factors for glaucoma Include:

  • Increasing age
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have high intraocular pressure (IOP)
  • Are markedly nearsighted
  • Are of African descent (open-angle glaucoma)
  • Are of Asian descent (angle-closure glaucoma).

Global Burden of Glaucoma

The global burden of glaucoma, from both a humanistic and economic perspective, is significant at all stages of the disease. Because the impact of the disease increases as the disease advances, proactive glaucoma management may potentially help reduce the overall disease burden on patients, society and the health economy.

The burden of the disease on patients is characterized by impact on patients' daily lives, including their physical, sociological and mental health. Studies show that patients with glaucoma have a 63 percent increased risk of depression and nearly 35 percent of newly diagnosed glaucoma patients reported symptoms of nervousness, anxiety or stress. In addition, the consequences of vision loss due to irreversible optic nerve damage can greatly affect one's independence, such as the ability to drive and perform basic daily activities due to sensitivity to light, problems with glare, blurred vision and trouble seeing in dark places.

In addition to the affect on patients' lives, the economic burden of glaucoma consists of direct and indirect costs which have shown to increase as the disease progresses. For example, direct costs would constitute medication, eye health professional visits and procedures while indirect costs could include loss of productivity or days off from work. Earlier diagnosis and treatment may help reduce these costs incurred at later stages of the disease, reducing the overall economic burden on society.

"I've seen first-hand the major impact glaucoma can have on patients' daily lives, which is why I feel it's crucial to elevate the importance of eye health now," said Mr. Clive Migdal, President of the European Glaucoma Society, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Western Eye Hospital, London, UK. "Delayed diagnosis of glaucoma not only affects patients' lives, but it also often results in increased healthcare costs for both the individual and society as a whole."

About All Eyes on Glaucoma

All Eyes on Glaucoma is a global educational program sponsored by Pfizer Ophthalmics to raise awareness about glaucoma, the importance of complete eye exams including assessment of the optic nerve, and the need for timely and appropriate diagnosis to help reinforce the importance of preserving vision. The program encourages patients with glaucoma and those at-risk to understand more about glaucoma and the practical steps that need to be taken to preserve eye health and prevent optic nerve damage. The global educational program offers an informative Web site,, that provides online resources and support to help people take action now and avoid the negative consequences of vision loss later.

About Pfizer Ophthalmics

Pfizer Ophthalmics, a division of Pfizer Inc, is committed to preserving sight and eliminating preventable blindness. Pfizer Ophthalmics discovers, develops and provides leading treatments in ophthalmology to support patients who are at risk of blindness or suffering from vision impairment, and to serve the health care professionals who treat them. Its current product line includes the most prescribed treatment to lower elevated eye pressure in patients with ocular hypertension (abnormally high eye pressure) or open-angle glaucoma. Pfizer Ophthalmics also markets a treatment for neovascular age related macular degeneration outside the U.S.

Notes to Editors:

Glaucoma is the name given to a series of devastating diseases that irreversibly damage the eye's optic nerve. If left unchecked, this can result in serious vision loss over time. Glaucoma is commonly detected by measuring the pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). When eye pressure increases over time, the optic nerve becomes damaged. Worldwide, an estimated 6.7 million people are blind from glaucoma, with approximately 70 million people living with the condition.

The two most common forms of glaucoma are:

  • Open-angle glaucoma - when the pressure in the eye increases over time due to poor drainage of the aqueous humor.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma - when the iris is too close to the drainage canal (trabecular meshwork).

The only modifiable glaucoma risk factor is high eye pressure, though it is possible to develop the condition without it. Due to the build-up of natural fluid produced by the eye, high eye pressure causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, the "cable" used by the eye to communicate to the brain. High eye pressure may exist without noticeable symptoms so many people do not know they have it if their vision is not checked regularly. In fact, people may not notice vision loss until 40 percent or more of their optic nerve has been damaged. IOP is an easily identifiable risk factor; however people who fall within the normal IOP range may still be at risk for glaucoma.

References Upon Request

SOURCE Pfizer Ophthalmics
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