Detecting Structural Progression in Glaucoma with Optical Coherence Tomography.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is increasingly used to obtain objective measurements of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), optic nerve head, and macula for assessing glaucoma progression. Although OCT has been adopted widely in clinical practice, uncertainty remains concerning its optimal role. Questions include: What is the best structure to measure? What quantity of change is significant? Are structural changes relevant to the patient? How are longitudinal measurements affected by aging? How can changes resulting from aging be differentiated from true progression? How best should OCT be used alongside visual fields, and how often should OCT be performed? Recent studies have addressed some of these questions. Important developments include appreciation of the need to use a consistent point of reference for structural measurements, leading to the introduction of Bruch's membrane opening (BMO)-based measurements, including BMO-minimum rim width and BMO-minimum rim area. Commercially available OCT devices also permit analysis of macular changes over time, for example, changes in the ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers, the sites of the retinal ganglion cell bodies and dendrites, respectively. Several longitudinal studies have compared rates of change in RNFL and macular measurements, with some suggesting that the relative value of each parameter may differ at different stages of disease. In early disease, looking for change over time also may be useful for glaucoma diagnosis, with advantages over classifying eyes using cross-sectional normative databases. Optimal glaucoma management requires information from imaging and visual fields, and efforts have been made to combine information, reducing the noise inherent in both tests to benefit from their different performances according to the stage of disease. Combining information from different structural measurements may also be useful. There is now substantial evidence that progressive structural changes are of direct clinical relevance, with progressive changes on OCT often preceding functional loss and patients with faster change on OCT at increased risk of worsening visual losses. Identification of such patients offers the possibility of commencing or escalating treatment at an earlier stage. This review appraises recent developments in the use of OCT for assessing glaucoma progression.
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