Early Predictor of Glaucoma Found
03/01/2013 0 Comments
A new study finds that certain changes in blood vessels in the retina can be an early warning that a person is at increased risk for glaucoma.
Using diagnostic photos and other data from the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study, the researchers showed that patients who had abnormally narrow retinal arteries when the study began were also those who were most likely to have glaucoma at its 10-year end point. If confirmed by future research, this finding could give ophthalmologists a new way to identify and treat those who are most vulnerable to vision loss from glaucoma. The study was recently published online by Ophthalmology.
The findings of the new study, led by Paul Mitchell, MD, PhD, of the Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, support the concept that abnormal narrowing of retinal blood vessels is an important factor in the earliest stages of open-angle glaucoma. Tracking nearly 2,500 participants, the study found that the open-angle glaucoma risk at the 10-year mark was about four times higher in patients whose retinal arteries had been narrowest when the study began, compared with those who had the widest arteries.
None of the participants had a diagnosis of open-angle glaucoma at the study’s outset. Compared with the study group as a whole, the patients who were diagnosed with OAG by the 10-year mark were older, had higher blood pressure or higher intraocular pressure at the study’s baseline, and were more likely to be female. Study results were adjusted for age, family history of glaucoma, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and other relevant factors.
“Our results suggest that a computer-based imaging tool designed to detect narrowing of the retinal artery caliber, or diameter, could effectively identify those who are most at risk for open-angle glaucoma,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Such a tool would also need to account for blood pressure and other factors that can contribute to blood vessel changes. Early detection would allow ophthalmologists to treat patients before optic nerve damage occurs and would give us the best chance of protecting their vision.”