A SIMPLE TEST CAN SAVE YOUR EYESIGHT AFRICAN-AMERICANS AT SPECIAL RISK
September 1, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2005
CONTACT: Suzanna Cisneros Martinez, firstname.lastname@example.org
LUBBOCK – Sports legend Willie Mays and actress Diahann Carroll share a common interest:
educating the African-American community of the risks of glaucoma through a national
video campaign called “Glaucoma and You.”
Joining the campaign is M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., president of the Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center, who also was named as the national co-spokesman of the project.
Wilson said more than half a million African-Americans are diagnosed with glaucoma,
and an additional quarter million may have it and not be aware because of the lack
“Glaucoma and You” is a 30-minute educational video developed to increase glaucoma
awareness, diagnosis and treatment among African-Americans. Wilson said the goal of
the project is to ignite a call to action within the community that encourages African-Americans
to visit eye care professionals earlier in life and get screened for glaucoma before
serious damage from the disease can occur.
“Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans,” Wilson said. “It
normally progresses so slowly that there are no warning signs before permanent damage
have occurred to the eye. Educating the African-American community of the importance
of having a yearly eye exam could detect glaucoma and prevent vision loss.”
Although glaucoma can affect everyone, Wilson said African-Americans are more susceptible
to the disease. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is three to
four times more common in African-Americans than in Caucasians.
Wilson added that African-Americans ages 45 to 65 are seven times more likely to go
blind from glaucoma than Caucasians with glaucoma in the same age group.
“African-Americans need to understand the risks of this devastating disease and realize
that the earlier it is diagnosed, the better chance they have of protecting their
eyes and preserving their sight,” Wilson said.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is the nerve that connects the eye
to the brain. Wilson said when the natural fluid inside the eye does not drain properly,
pressure within the eye can increase, damaging the optic nerve and leading to loss
Wilson adds that treatment options focus on reducing eye pressure. Ophthalmologists
may prescribe daily eye drops, which have been shown to reduce the development of
glaucoma in people with elevated eye pressure by almost 50 percent. Other options
in people with glaucoma may include surgery, either laser or conventional, to help
fluid drain more effectively to relieve eye pressure.
Wilson, an internationally recognized glaucoma researcher and ophthalmologist, was
recently inducted into the American Ophthalmological Society, the oldest subspecialty
society in the country. He also was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National
Academy of Sciences in October 2003.
For more information about Glaucoma and You, contact Suzanna Cisneros Martinez, Department
of Communications and Marketing, at (806) 743-2143 or visit the Glaucoma Research
Foundation at http:www.glaucoma.org/learn.