Objective: To compare the ability of expert clinicians, using qualitative assessment of stereoscopic optic disc photographs, and confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope imaging to discriminate between healthy persons and patients with early glaucoma.
Design: Comparative instrument validation study.
Participants: Seventy-two healthy persons and 51 patients with early glaucoma (average visual field mean deviation, -3.6 dB). Early glaucoma was defined as a history of ocular hypertension and a reproducible visual field defect scoring 5 or less in the Advanced Glaucoma Intervention Study classification, regardless of optic disc appearance.
Intervention: Stereoscopic optic nerve head (ONH) photography and Heidelberg Retina Tomograph (HRT) imaging, (Heidelberg Engineering GmbH, Dossenheim, Germany).
Main outcome measures: Ability of clinical assessment of stereoscopic ONH photographs and analysis of HRT parameters, taking into account the optic disc size, to detect early glaucomatous optic disc changes.
Results: The specificity of the majority opinion of five observers to detect early glaucomatous optic disc changes was 94.4%, with a sensitivity of 70.6%. Using the HRT analysis, the specificity was 95.8% and the sensitivity was 84. 3%.
Conclusions: Heidelberg Retina Tomograph image analysis that takes into account the optic disc size is more sensitive than clinical assessment of stereoscopic optic disc photographs in distinguishing between healthy persons and patients with early glaucoma.