Purpose: The American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns for angle closure and open-angle glaucoma (OAG) patients recommends performing bilateral gonioscopy upon initial presentation to evaluate the possibility of narrow angle or angle-closure glaucoma (ACG) and then repeating the examination at least every 5 years. This study aims to assess how commonly eye care providers perform gonioscopy before planned glaucoma surgery in OAG, anatomic narrow angle, and ACG in the Medicare population.
Methods: Data obtained from a 5% random sample of Medicare beneficiaries undergoing glaucoma surgery in the United States in 1999 were retrospectively reviewed. The proportion of patients with evidence of at least one gonioscopic examination before glaucoma surgery was determined for the period of 1995 to 1999. Demographic and clinical factors potentially influencing the decision to perform gonioscopy were also examined.
Results: Overall, gonioscopy is apparently performed in 49% of Medicare beneficiaries during the 4 to 5 years preceding glaucoma surgery. This rate was significantly lower (P < 0.001) in patients with OAG (46%), as compared with anatomic narrow angle (58%) and ACG (57%) patients. Hispanics, elderly (aged 70 to 84), patients undergoing laser iridotomy, and patients receiving care in the New York/New Jersey area all had significantly higher apparent preoperative gonioscopy rates (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Gonioscopy examination before glaucoma surgery in Medicare beneficiaries is underused, undercoded, and/or miscoded, given current recommendations. Underuse is of particular concern in patients undergoing laser iridotomy as it is the diagnostic test of choice in ACG.