Social deprivation linked to increased risk of blindness from glaucoma

March 15, 2001

Deprivation and late presentation of glaucoma: case-control study

People with the least material and psychosocial resources seem to be at greatest risk of going blind from glaucoma, finds a study in this week's BMJ. This study has important implications for government policy aimed at reducing social inequalities in health.

Researchers at University College London measured the socioeconomic status of 220 patients newly diagnosed with glaucoma at three hospitals in England. Patients who presented with advanced glaucoma (late presenters) were of lower occupational status, and lower educational level, were less likely to have access to a car, and more likely to be tenants. Since existing evidence shows that late presentation is an important risk factor for subsequent blindness, these results suggest that deprived groups are at greater risk of going blind from glaucoma, explain the authors.

Access to and use of health services are undoubtedly important factors, say the authors. In addition, long term deprivation may lead to more rapidly progressive and aggressive disease, add the authors. "Glaucoma should be included among conditions targeted in policy aimed at reducing social inequalities in health," they conclude.

Eric Brunner, Senior Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, UK Email:


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