An evidence-based assessment of risk factors for the progression of ocular hypertension and glaucoma

Am J Ophthalmol. 2004 Sep;138(3 Suppl):S19-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2004.04.058.


Purpose: To critically review the existing literature concerning risk factors for progression of ocular hypertension and glaucoma to assist in assigning levels of risk for individual patients.

Design: Evidence-based review.

Methods: A panel of physicians specializing in treatment of glaucoma patients was convened to critically analyze published population-based studies of ocular hypertension and glaucoma progression. The strength of evidence in support of reported risk factors was weighed.

Results: Many putative risk factors for progression of ocular hypertension or glaucoma have been reported in the literature. The risk factors most strongly supported by evidence are higher intraocular pressure (IOP), greater cup-to-disk ratio, thinner central corneal measurement, and older age. Black race does not appear to be an independent risk factor, although black individuals tend to have thinner corneas, greater cup-to-disk ratios, and higher IOP, which increase their risk. The limited number of studies in which other suspected risk factors are reported prevents drawing firm conclusions about their importance at this time.

Conclusions: Only a subset of patients with ocular hypertension will eventually develop glaucoma. Decisions regarding the implementation and extent of therapy for ocular hypertension can be difficult and require an understanding of the relative importance of risk factors for progression. This review discusses the strength of evidence supporting reported risk factors and may be useful in assessing the risk for progression of individual patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma / etiology*
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Ocular Hypertension / complications*
  • Ocular Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Ocular Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors