Highlights of a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Office Visits for Glaucoma: United States, 1991-92

Advance Data No. 262

For Release March 30, 1995

Glaucoma was the principal diagnosis of 17.5 million doctor visits during 1991 and 1992, an annual estimate of 8.7 million visits. Data from NCHS’ National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) show that these visits were primarily made by middle-aged and older Americans, were more likely to be made by men than women, and most likely to be a return visit, emphasizing the chronic nature of glaucoma.

Glaucoma visits appear to have increased substantially from 1975-76 when there were an estimated 2.3 million visits per year. Comparing this earlier survey with the data just released, glaucoma jumped from the ninth most frequently mentioned disease diagnosis in people aged 65 years and over to the fifth most frequently mentioned disease diagnosis. Glaucoma is second only to cataracts as the most frequent diagnosis of visits to an ophthalmologist.

The data indicate a disparity in care by race. Despite a significantly higher prevalence of glaucoma among black Americans–sometimes estimated as 6 to 8 times higher than in the white population–there was no difference in visit rates by race. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among the black population.

The survey also reported that:

  • About three-quarters of glaucoma visits were made to ophthalmologists.
  • Nine out of 10 glaucoma visits result in a scheduled return visit.
  • Medication therapy was the most frequently mentioned therapeutic service at glaucoma visits.

The data are collected in the NAMCS, a national probability survey of nonfederally employed, office-based physicians in the United States.

For more information, please contact NCHS, Office of Public Affairs (301) 436-7551, or via e-mail at paoquery@cdc.gov.

No. 262. Office Visits for Glaucoma: United States, 1991-92. 16 pp. (PHS) 95-1250 [PDF – 212 KB]