Disease Leads To Vision Loss In African Americans

Armen Hareyan's picture

"The racial difference does not appear to be based on differences in diagnosis, treatment or access to care," said study author Beau Bruce, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. "The disease affects African Americans more aggressively. Doctors may need to monitor their African American patients more closely and take steps to prevent vision loss earlier than with other patients."

The cause of idiopathic intracranial hypertension is not known. Symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, and vision problems such as blurriness and double vision. It is most common in young, obese women.


For the study, researchers reviewed the medical records of all patients at Emory University with intracranial hypertension over a 17-year period. Of the 450 people, 197 were African American. There were 246 whites, five Hispanic people and two Asian people in the study.

The African American patients were 3.5 times more likely to have severe vision loss in at least one eye, and they were nearly five times as likely to become legally blind than the non-African American patients.

Bruce noted that the African Americans in the study had other risk factors, such as higher body mass index and higher frequency of low blood iron, and higher pressures around the brain than non-African American participants, and that these factors could partially account for the increased risk of vision loss.