People who develop glaucoma often find that the disease spreads rapidly and can have a profoundly negative impact on their way of life, limiting their everyday functions.
Now, however, experts have set out to reduce the number of people being diagnosed with the disease and increase the treatment options available.
Writing in an issue of the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, described how they have analysed and ranked the various risk factors for open angle glaucoma (OAG).
This means that patients can be screened at an earlier stage if they are more likely to develop the condition, the experts state.
Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness worldwide and the second leading cause of blindness in the US and, of the various forms of the condition, OAG is the most common and can also the most damaging.
Now, however, Duo Zhou and colleagues at the facility have used statistical collinearity analysis to evaluate risk factors for OAG, and logistic regression models to determine a minimum set of such risk factors for both prognosis and diagnosis of the disease.
Their study, based on more than 400 patients with subtle or severe vision problems, revealed that OAG risk factors include relative risk of being a smoker, age, visual "field test" results, presence of a localised notch or thinning of the neuroretinal rim and cup to disk ratio.
Overall, the experts revealed that the odds of developing OAG are increased by 91 per cent with an increase in the Cup-to-Disc ratio of 0.1, three per cent per year by age and by 4.36 per cent for patients with abnormal Humphrey visual filed overall test.
The results could lead to a major change in the way in which people are checked for OAG and other blinding diseases in the future.
by Martin Burns