Association Between Rate of Ganglion Cell Complex Thinning and Rate of Central Visual Field Loss

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2023 Jan 1;141(1):33-39. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2022.4973.


Importance: Whether rapid ganglion cell complex (GCC) thinning during an initial follow-up period is associated with rates of central visual field loss over time is unclear but important to understand because risk of glaucoma progression can help guide treatment intensity.

Objective: To investigate the association between the rate of GCC thinning during initial follow-up and the rate of central visual field loss.

Design, setting, and participants: This retrospective cohort study assessed patients older than 18 years with glaucoma at a tertiary glaucoma center who were followed up from June 18, 2014, to January 11, 2019. Data analysis for the current study was undertaken in March 2022.

Main outcomes and measures: Initial rates of GCC thinning were obtained from global GCC thickness values of the first 3 optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans. Rates of central visual field loss were assessed as the change in central (10-2) visual field mean deviation during the 4.7-year follow-up period by univariable and multivariable linear mixed-effects models. Eyes were categorized as slow (>-1 μm/y) or fast (≤-1 μm/y) progressors based on rates of GCC thinning.

Results: The cohort consisted of 202 eyes of 139 patients (mean [SD] age, 68.7 [10.0] years; 72 male [51.8%]); 44 African American patients (31.7%), 13 Asian patients (9.4%), 80 White patients (57.6%), and 2 patients who identified as other race and ethnicity (1.4%) were analyzed. The rate of GCC change was -0.56 μm/y (95% CI, -0.66 to -0.46 μm/y) during a mean initial follow-up of 1.8 years (95% CI, 1.7-2.0 years). A total of 163 eyes (80.7%) were slow OCT progressors, and 39 (19.3%) were fast OCT progressors, with rates of GCC thinning of -0.3 μm/y (95% CI, -0.4 to -0.2 μm/y) and -1.6 μm/y (-1.8 to -1.3 μm/y), respectively. The rates of 10-2 visual field mean deviation worsening among slow and fast OCT progressors were -0.10 dB/y (95% CI, -0.16 to 0.00 dB/y) and -0.34 dB/y (95% CI, -0.51 to -0.16 dB/y), respectively (difference, -0.26 dB/y; 95% CI, -0.45 to -0.07 dB/y; P = .008).

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study, rapid GCC thinning during an initial follow-up period was associated with faster rates of central visual field decline. These findings support use of longitudinal macular OCT scans assisting clinical decision-making for glaucoma and also may guide possible intensification of therapy in high-risk patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Glaucoma* / complications
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle* / complications
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Optic Disk*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scotoma / etiology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods
  • Visual Field Tests
  • Visual Fields