Purpose: To report on glaucoma-related ocular parameters, namely intraocular pressure and peripheral anterior synechiae, in the presence of onchocercal infection.
Methods: Two computer-generated random samples of individuals were drawn from communities mesoendemic and nonendemic for onchocerciasis respectively. Applanation tonometry and gonioscopy were carried out on these individuals.
Results: Four hundred and thirty-six and 319 individuals from the mesoendemic and nonendemic communities were examined respectively. The mean intraocular pressure was 1.58 mmHg lower in the individuals from the mesoendemic communities compared with those from the nonendemic communities (p < 0.001) despite the prevalence of peripheral anterior synechiae being higher in the mesoendemic communities. In these communities, there was strong evidence that the prevalence of peripheral anterior synechiae increased with increasing microfilarial load.
Conclusions: Onchocercal infection produces a low-grade inflammatory process, which may result in a lowering of intraocular pressure despite the formation of peripheral anterior synechiae. Glaucomatous optic nerve damage may therefore not be the primary cause of visual loss in ocular onchocerciasis as this occurs late and is probably preceded by other blinding onchocercal pathology.