Interobserver variation in the measurements of peripapillary atrophy in glaucoma

Ophthalmology. 1996 Mar;103(3):535-41. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(96)30661-1.


Purpose: The purpose of this retrospective study is to compare the measurements of intrapapillary and peripapillary parameters between two observers and test the usefulness of measuring different types of crescents.

Methods: Optic disc photographs of 23 eyes of 23 patients with glaucoma and 23 age-matched normal eyes were measured in Oulu and in Erlangen using manual planimetric techniques. The authors measured the following magnification corrected intrapapillary and peripapillary areas: optic disc, neuroretinal rim, cup: disc area ratio, scleral ring, central (zone beta), and peripheral peripapillary atrophy (zone alpha). Twenty-one patients with glaucoma had a follow-up of 3.2 years (range, 1.1-4.7 years), and follow-up for 19 control eyes was 3.7 years (range, 2.5-5.9 years). The measurements were performed in a masked fashion for the diagnosis and temporal sequence of the photographs.

Results: Central peripapillary atrophy (zone beta) was statistically significantly largest in primary open-angle glaucoma in both centers (Oulu, P=0.003; Erlangen, P=0.004), whereas normal and exfoliative eyes did not differ significantly from each other. The results for peripheral peripapillary atrophy (zone alpha) and scleral ring were less consistent. Despite statistically significant interobserver correlations ranging from r=0.30 (scleral ring area; P=0.0472) to r=0.97 (optic disc area; P=0.0001), the means of all parameters, except for zone alpha and beta, differed statistically significantly between the two observers.

Conclusions: The central peripapillary atrophy, or zone beta, is the most reproducible parameter when measuring peripapillary atrophy in glaucoma. Nonetheless, its measurement is of limited usefulness in the recognition of glaucoma or progression of glaucomatous nerve damage.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Glaucoma / complications
  • Glaucoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Optic Atrophy / complications
  • Optic Atrophy / pathology*
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Photography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies