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56% of elderly suffer undetected glaucoma: Swedish researchers

In a new study, Swedish researchers from the University of Gothenburg demonstrated the incidence and risk factors associated with open-angle glaucoma in elderly people aged 70 and older. Researchers state that open-angle glaucoma often goes undiagnosed in older adults.

In this large group study, reserachers enrolled 1203 participants and analysed the questionnaire responses from 1182 participants regarding their self-reported glaucoma and examined the patients for blood pressure (BP) and diabetes. They conducted an ophthalmic evaluation of 560 patients, including best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), intraocular pressure (IOP), central corneal thickness (CCT), contrast sensitivity (CS), perimetry, and images of the retina and lens.

After analysing the questionnaire responses, they found that 4.8% of patients had pre-existing glaucoma, and 56% of the participants had previously undetected glaucoma. 

Moreover, a substantial number of patients without glaucoma had high blood pressure (above 90 mm Hg), compared to 0% in the glaucoma group. 

Researchers also found that 39% of participants had a family history of glaucoma, compared to 1.1% of non-glaucoma patients. In two-thirds of patients with prior undiagnosed glaucoma, the intra-ocular pressure was 21 mm Hg, and the best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was lower in comparison to the non-glaucoma patients.

Findings from optical inspection demonstrated that 2.1% of participants had glaucoma and 2.7% had prior undetected glaucoma. Most of the patients had glaucoma in one eye, while 22% of participants had bilateral glaucoma.

Glaucoma is an eye condition caused by high intraocular pressure due to a damaged optic nerve.

According to a recent study published in the journal Cureus, open-angle glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. Approximately 57.5 million individuals in the world suffer from open-angle glaucoma.

Dr Lena Havstam Johansson, University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said, "The majority of the newly discovered glaucoma cases had normal intraocular pressure levels (i.e., about 21 mm Hg), leading to a higher risk of not being diagnosed."

According to her, because most subjects had unilateral disease, visual function (i.e., BCVA in the best eye) did not differ between patients with glaucoma and nonglaucomatous participants, implying that in the majority of glaucoma cases, visual-related quality of life may not be affected.

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