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More frequent visual tests may be good for tracking glaucoma progression

August 09, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Having more frequent visual tests could be linked with better tracing of glaucoma progression, a study finds
Having more frequent visual tests could be linked with better tracing of… (Michael Chritton / MCT )

More frequent visual tests for glaucoma patients could allow physicians to better follow theĀ  condition's progression, a study finds.

A study released online Monday in the Archives of Ophthamology examined data on 468 eyes of 381 patients age 35 to 80 who were part of a long-term intervention study. The participants had primary open-angle glaucoma no longer being controlled by medication. This type of glaucoma is the most common form and usually hits people over 50. It causes damage to the optic nerve and usually progresses slowly, sometimes without being noticed. The researchers' goal was to see if more frequent visual field tests to check peripheral vision resulted in earlier discovery of the progression of the glaucoma.

Patients had 10 or more visual field tests and at least three years of follow-up. Researchers looked at all visual field tests starting from the first year (this became the high-frequency testing group), then deleted every other test from the second follow-up year (this was the low-frequency testing group). Data on both groups were compared.

Those in the high-frequency testing group were more likely to detect progression of the glaucoma. In the high-frequency group, progression was 69% more likely to be noticed. In some participants in this set, improvement was also seen.

A schedule of twice-yearly screenings was ultimately deemed better by the authors than yearly tests. They wrote, "Validation of these findings in other patient populations would be desirable. Our results have significant healthcare policy implications with regard to determining the frequency of visual field testing in patients with glaucoma."

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