Estimating the rate of retinal ganglion cell loss in glaucoma.
PURPOSE: To present and evaluate a new method of estimating rates of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss in glaucoma by combining structural and functional measurements. DESIGN: Observational cohort study. METHODS: The study included 213 eyes of 213 glaucoma patients followed up for an average of 4.5 ± 0.8 years with standard automated perimetry visual fields and optical coherence tomography. A control group of 33 eyes of 33 glaucoma patients underwent repeated tests over a short period to test the specificity of the method. An additional group of 52 eyes from 52 healthy subjects followed up for an average of 4.0 ± 0.7 years was used to estimate age-related losses of RGCs. Estimates of RGC counts were obtained from standard automated perimetry and optical coherence tomography, and a weighted average was used to obtain a final estimate of the number of RGCs for each eye. The rate of RGC loss was calculated for each eye using linear regression. Progression was defined by a statistically significant slope faster than the age-expected loss of RGCs. RESULTS: From the 213 eyes, 47 (22.1%) showed rates of RGC loss that were faster than the age-expected decline. A larger proportion of glaucomatous eyes showed progression based on rates of RGC loss rather than based on isolated parameters from standard automated perimetry (8.5%) or optical coherence tomography (14.6%; P < .01), while maintaining similar specificities in the stable group. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of RGC loss estimated from combining structure and function performed better than either isolated structural or functional measures for detecting progressive glaucomatous damage.
Medeiros, FA; Zangwill, LM; Anderson, DR; Liebmann, JM; Girkin, CA; Harwerth, RS; Fredette, M-J; Weinreb, RN
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