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    Earlier glaucoma detection: Study finds progress, but at very slow rate

    Data provide significant opportunity to audit service delivery, identify areas for improvement

     

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    Analyses of visual field data collected at centers across England showed the average level of severity of vision loss at the time of glaucoma detection decreased—improved—over time. Still, the rate of improvement between 1998 and 2012 was only 0.1 dB per year.

     

    Trishal Boodhna

    London—A study from England analyzing visual field loss at the time of glaucoma diagnosis shows the average level of severity decreased over a recent 15-year period.

    However, the annual rate of change was low, indicating a need for strategies that will improve earlier disease detection, said Trishal Boodhna, MSc.

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    “Detecting glaucoma sooner than later is important, because glaucoma-related vision loss is irreversible,” said Boodhna, a PhD student in Health Economics in Professor David Crabb’s Research Lab at City University London. “In addition, from a health economic perspective, the cost burden for treatment is lower for earlier versus more advanced stages of disease.

    “Although our study indicates we are getting better at detecting glaucoma earlier in England, the question as to whether the rate of improvement is sufficient requires further exploration,” Boodhna said.

    Available studies show that screening programs for glaucoma are not cost-effective. However, there has to be a middle ground between that approach and the opportunistic way glaucoma is usually detected in the United Kingdom, when people have routine eye exams with optometrists, he noted.

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