Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) has been reported to occur more frequently in Africans, and to follow a more severe course compared to Europeans. We aimed to describe characteristics of POAG presentation and treatment across three ethnic groups from Africa and one from Europe.
We ascertained 151 POAG patients from South African Coloured (SAC) and 94 South African Black (SAB) ethnicity from a university hospital in South Africa. In Tanzania, 310 patients were recruited from a university hospital and a referral hospital. In the Netherlands, 241 patients of European ancestry were included. All patients were over 35 years old and had undergone an extensive ophthalmic examination. Patients were diagnosed according to the ISGEO criteria. A biogeographic ancestry analysis was performed to estimate the proportion of genetic African ancestry (GAA).
The biogeographic ancestry analysis showed that the median proportion of GAA was 97.6% in Tanzanian, 100% in SAB, 34.2% in SAC and 1.5% in Dutch participants. Clinical characteristics at presentation for Tanzanians, SAB, SAC and Dutch participants, respectively: mean age: 63, 57, 66, 70 years (p < 0.001); visual acuity in the worse eye: 1.78, 1.78, 0.3, 0.3 LogMAR (p < 0.001); maximum intraocular pressure of both eyes: 36, 34, 29, 29 mmHg (p  < 0.001); maximum vertical cup to disc ratio (VCDR) of both eyes: 0.90, 0.90, 0.84, 0.83 (p < 0.001); mean central corneal thickness: 506, 487, 511, 528 μm (p < 0.001). Fourteen percent of Tanzanian patients presented with blindness (<3/60 Snellen) in the better eye in contrast to only 1% in the Dutch.
In this multi-ethnic comparative study, Sub-Saharan Africans present at a younger age with lower visual acuity, higher IOP, larger VCDR, than SAC and Dutch participants. This indicates the more progressive and destructive course in Sub-Saharan Africans.