Background: A study was carried out to evaluate the extent of psychosomatic complaints in patients with normal-tension glaucoma.
Methods: Twenty-four patients (M:F=3:21; mean age 58+/-15.3 years) with normal-tension glaucoma were rated according to the von Zerssen Symptom List (psychosomatic discomfort), the Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI-N, emotional status and MPI-E, extroverted-introverted), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). An age- and sex-matched control group (n=24; M:F=3:21; mean age 56+/-13 years) without any ocular or other general chronic disease was selected.
Results: In comparison with the control group the patients with normal-tension glaucoma showed significantly more complaints (von Zerssen Symptom List) and were more emotionally unstable (MPI-N). No group differences were found regarding extroversion-introversion (MPI-E) and depression (BDI). In the 16PF, patients with normal-tension glaucoma were remarkable, only for a significant negative correlation between the duration of illness and psychic endurance.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that patients with normal-tension glaucoma show evident psychosomatic involvement. However, the sequence of the pathogenetic development remains unclear. Therefore, it is not known whether these psychological disturbances are factors contributing to the development of normal-tension glaucoma or whether they are a result of normal-tension glaucoma. Nevertheless, some patients with normal-tension glaucoma had these disturbances. Besides reduction of intraocular pressure and improvement of vascular condition, those who display psychological disturbances should receive psychological support, such as autogenic training.