Myopia and glaucoma: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2013 Mar;24(2):96-101. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0b013e32835cef31.


Purpose of review: There is strong epidemiologic evidence linking myopia with glaucomatous disease, but a myopic optic nerve can pose significant challenges with regard to making the correct diagnosis of glaucoma. This review provides an overview of these diagnostic and therapeutic challenges with a particular focus on how the growing prevalence of myopia among specific populations may impact such therapy.

Recent findings: For a given individual, the link between myopia and glaucoma remains murky in many circumstances, largely because of the fact that it is difficult to separate out myopia-related structural and functional abnormalities from 'true' glaucomatous changes. Using optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging, myopia has been found to be associated with temporal displacement and thinning of the superior and inferior nerve fiber layer bundles. In particular, sequential generations of 'Asian' ethnicities have been noted to demonstrate increasing rates of high myopia at earlier ages, sometimes with associated visual field defects at normal intraocular pressures. As is the case with any progressive condition, it is often not possible to distinguish glaucomatous from nonglaucomatous disease based on a single examination, and thus follow-up with OCT or perimetry from an established baseline is useful.

Summary: Although myopia is a known risk factor for glaucoma, it may also result in structural and functional defects that cannot be distinguished from those caused by glaucoma based solely on cross-sectional information. Longitudinal observation may be necessary to distinguish among the multiple effects of myopia on the optic nerve and the natural history of glaucoma, which may vary substantially amongst those who are affected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / etiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Myopia / complications
  • Myopia / diagnosis*
  • Myopia / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Visual Fields