Purpose: The authors have developed a simple method for semi-quantitative grading of atrophy of the peripapillary nerve fiber layer (NFL) in black and white photographs.
Methods: An experienced observer read sets of NFL photographs using a four-level grading system. Five observers with varying levels of experience at ophthalmic examination were taught the grading system in approximately 4 hours, and their readings were compared with those of the expert.
Results: The reproducibility of readings by an experienced observer was excellent. The validity of the grading system was confirmed by comparisons to visual field findings, as well as to cup-to-disc ratios in the same eyes. The agreement with the expert by the five trained graders was good.
Conclusions: Grading of the NFL could be useful both to monitor development of early glaucoma damage clinically and to measure progression of glaucoma damage in clinical trials research. The grading system can be taught readily to other observers.