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Random samples of people aged 40 years and over were drawn from lists of patients registered with two neighbouring inner-city general practices: one predominantly with Asian patients and the other predominantly with European patients. The people selected were invited to attend specially arranged eye clinics for examination by an ophthalmologist and an optician. We examined 377 people and found that, compared to people of European descent, Asians had a significantly higher prevalence of age-related cataract: 30% compared to 3% in people aged under 60 years and 78% compared to 54% in those aged 60 years and over. The age of onset of cataract seems to be earlier in Asians. After adjustment for age, there were no statistically significant ethnic differences in the prevalences of open-angle glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.