Blacks are nearly three times more likely than whites to suffer from glaucoma, which can cause a gradual, irreversible loss of vision, but previous studies, which showed the drops to be effective, failed to draw conclusions specific to blacks.
Dr. Richard Parrish, a University of Miami researcher who contributed to the study published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, said the research indicates that even people who are at high-risk for the disease can be helped by preventative measures.
More than 1600 people at risk for glaucoma participated in the seven-year study at 22 centers around the country. Locations included the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami.
Roughly eight percent of the black patients given eye drops developed signs of glaucoma during the study, but that was about half the rate of those who were not treated with drops.
Among patients of other races, signs of the disease appeared in four percent of those treated with drops, and 11 percent of those not treated.