A new study at Columbia University in the US has demonstrated that most common glaucoma tests fail to identify the presence of certain vision loss, in turn missing or underestimating the disease’s severity.
The researchers also found that using a variation of the common visual field test could improve assessment of macular damage and glaucoma diagnosis.
The visual field test involves the use of an instrument to evaluate the vision of each eye.
In the study, the researchers utilised two different visual field measures to examine 57 eyes from 33 patients who were diagnosed with early-stage of glaucoma.
The participants were tested using the 24-2 visual test with a grid of 54 test points, followed by a 10-2 visual field test with a 68 test point grid. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was also used to confirm the damage identified.
Results showed that the 10-2 visual field helped in detecting central vision loss in more than 75% of the patients.
Columbia University Ophthalmic Science professor Donald Hood said: “Because the conventional 24-2 test often misses or underestimates damage in the central vision, it therefore underestimates disease severity.
“Patients in a later stage of the disease require closer monitoring and often require more aggressive treatment, which is unlikely to happen if 10-2 tests and OCT are not performed at some point during follow-up.”
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that a finer test grid in the macular area is necessary to better assess the severity of damage to the eye in glaucoma patients.
Columbia University associate professor Gustave De Moraes added: “By having a better assessment of the true severity of glaucomatous damage to the eye, doctors can tailor the most appropriate treatment to help prevent future vision loss.”