The Barbados Eye Studies


There were three main collaborators for this work: (1) Stony Brook, NY-Coordinating Center (MC Leske, B Nemesure, S-Y Wu, L Hyman, Q He, L Jiang, L Yang, K Kelleher, and M Santoro); (2) Barbados, W Indies-Data Collection Center (AJM Hennis, A Bannister, M Thangaraj, C Barrow, P Basdeo, K Bayley, and A Holder); (3) Baltimore, MD-Fundus Photography Reading Center (A Schachat, J Alexander, D Phillips, R Ward-Strozykowski).


The National Eye Institute, USA, provided funding for the BES (grant numbers EY07625 and EY07617). Barbados Incidence Study of Eye Diseases (BISED): US $4 million; Barbados Family Study of Open-angle Glaucoma: US $5 million.

The flagship programme of the CDRC during its foundation years was ―The Barbados Eye Studies‖ (BES), a collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Barbados, Stony Brook University New York, and Johns Hopkins. The BES set out to learn more about major eye diseases in westernised African-descent populations, with the aim of reducing or preventing visual loss. They were sustained with 15 years of continuous NIH funding (1988–2003) and yielded around 80 scientific publications and a similar number of abstracts. The BES confirmed the highest population-based prevalence and incidence rates of glaucoma to date, and identified related risk factors. High rates of cortical cataract (due to high diabetes prevalence), was also a new finding. Recorded high rates of visual loss were attributable to untreated cataract and advanced glaucoma, while advanced age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of blindness in Caucasoid populations, was rare. Findings from the BES have been utilised in the USA where they have informed eye care policy for African Americans. A novel gene for glaucoma has recently been identified from this body of work which will likely impact approaches to glaucoma detection and treatment.

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