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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2004
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NEI Reports on the Impact of Reducing Elevated Intraocular Pressure on the Incidence of Glaucoma in African Americans

(Washington, DC) Yesterday, the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced publication of research it has sponsored demonstrating that reducing elevated pressure within the eye with eye drops can delay or possibly prevent the onset of glaucoma in African Americans, who are at higher risk of developing the disease.

The research results, which appear in the June 2004 Archives of Ophthalmology , are part of a larger Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, and confirm trends identified but not yet conclusive in the African American sub-group in initial findings two years ago. The study results underscore the importance of identifying at-risk individuals within the African American population to receive prompt evaluation for possible medical treatment.

These new findings appear just two months after other NEI-sponsored research, conducted by the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group and published in the April 2004 Archives of Ophthalmology, reported a significant increase in the incidence of age-related eye disease and a disproportionate incidence of glaucoma and cataracts in the African American and Hispanic populations. Those data reported that, currently, more than 35 million Americans age 40 and older experience age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or cataracts, in addition to the 3.3 million already blind or with low vision. The NEI has estimated the annual economic and societal cost of eye disease and vision impairment at $68 billion and growing.

"The NEI should be commended for sponsoring this research, which demonstrates the Institute's and the overall NIH's commitment to studying health disparities," said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky. "As NAEVR advocates for a $711 million budget for the NEI in the FY2005 budget and appropriations process, we can emphasize the value and cost-effectiveness of NEI-sponsored research for all Americans."

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 44 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR's goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI), and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.