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AIM: To estimate the prevalence of glaucoma among people worldwide. METHODS: Available published data on glaucoma prevalence were reviewed to determine the relation of open angle and angle closure glaucoma with age in people of European, African, and Asian origin. A comparison was made with estimated world population data for the year 2000. RESULTS: The number of people with primary glaucoma in the world by the year 2000 is estimated at nearly 66.8 million, with 6.7 million suffering from bilateral blindness. In developed countries, fewer than 50% of those with glaucoma are aware of their disease. In the developing world, the rate of known disease is even lower. CONCLUSIONS: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of vision loss in the world. Improved methods of screening and therapy for glaucoma are urgently needed.