(HealthDay News) – Although the overall impact of routine glaucoma screening of middle-aged African-Americans may be modest, it would likely reduce the lifetime prevalence of glaucoma and glaucoma-related visual impairment and blindness.

Using data from the Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group and Baltimore Eye Study, Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues developed a computer-based microsimulation model to project visual outcomes in African-American individuals screened for glaucoma. Information from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials was used to identify the diagnostic characteristics of frequency-doubling technology and the hazard ratio for progression in treated patients.

The researchers found that, for African-Americans between the ages of 50–59 years without known glaucoma, implementation of routine glaucoma screening would reduce the lifetime prevalence of undiagnosed glaucoma (from 50 to 27%), glaucoma-related visual impairment (from 4.6 to 4.4%), and glaucoma-related blindness (from 6.1 to 5.6%). The cost for screening an individual was estimated at $80. A total of 58 people would need to be screened to diagnose one case of glaucoma, and 875 would need to be screened to prevent one case of visual impairment due to glaucoma.

“We conclude that routine screening for glaucoma in African-American individuals is a potentially clinically effective and economical method to reduce the burden of glaucoma-related visual impairment and blindness, though its absolute benefit is likely to be modest,” the authors write.

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