Purpose: To evaluate the effect of intraocular pressure (IOP)-reducing treatment on the development of disc hemorrhages in patients with glaucoma.
Design: Prospective cohort study of patients in the Early Manifest Glaucoma Trial, followed up to 11 years (median = 8 years).
Participants: Patients with newly detected glaucoma randomized to argon laser trabeculoplasty plus betaxolol (n = 129) or no initial treatment (n = 126), followed with tonometry, perimetry, and ophthalmoscopy every 3 months, and fundus photography every 6 months.
Methods: Logistic regression expressed as odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), analysis of variance, and Cox time-dependent models, expressed as hazard ratios (HRs) and CIs.
Main outcome measures: Presence (yes/no) and frequency of disc hemorrhages.
Results: Disc hemorrhages were identified in approximately 55% of all patients, whether by ophthalmoscopy or review of photographs. In analyses including data up to the time of progression, disc hemorrhages were equally common among treated and control patients: 51.2% versus 45.2%, respectively (P = 0.34), based on ophthalmoscopy, and 50.4% versus 44.4%, respectively (P = 0.34), based on photographs. Gender was the only factor related to the presence of disc hemorrhages detected by both ophthalmoscopy (OR = 0.48; CI, 0.26-0.88; P = 0.022) and photographs (OR = 0.64; CI, 0.38-1.09; P = 0.099) for male patients. The frequency of disc hemorrhages over time did not differ between treated and control patients: 8.4% versus 8.5%, respectively (P = 0.93), based on ophthalmoscopy, and 12.4% versus 11.2%, respectively (P = 0.36), based on photographs. Disc hemorrhages were significantly associated with time to progression (HR = 1.02; CI, 1.01-1.04), and there was no evidence of interaction between treatment group and disc hemorrhages.
Conclusions: IOP-reducing treatment was unrelated to the presence or frequency of disc hemorrhages. The results may suggest that disc hemorrhages cannot be considered an indication of insufficient IOP-lowering treatment, and that glaucoma progression in eyes with disc hemorrhages cannot be totally halted by IOP reduction. The results also suggest that disc hemorrhages do not occur in all patients with glaucoma.