Various glaucomatous optic nerve appearances: clinical correlations

Ophthalmology. 1996 Apr;103(4):640-9. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(96)30640-4.


Purpose: To study the prevalence of risk factors for glaucoma as well as the pattern of visual field defects and their progression in patients with open angle glaucoma with different and distinct optic nerve appearances.

Methods: One thousand seven hundred eleven optic disc stereo photographs of patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension and of those suspected of having glaucoma were reviewed to identify pure examples of discs with four different optic disc appearances: focal ischemic discs, myopic glaucomatous discs, senile sclerotic discs, and generalized enlargement of the optic cup discs. The clinical charts of the selected patients were reviewed, with emphasis on the presence of predetermined ocular and systemic risk factors. Their automated visual fields also were analyzed.

Results: Thiry-four patients with focal ischemic discs, 38 with myopic glaucomatous discs, 22 with senile sclerotic discs, and 23 with generalized enlargement of the optic cup discs were selected. Patients with myopic glaucoma and generalized enlargement of the optic cup discs were significantly younger than patients with focal ischemic and senile sclerotic discs. There were more women in the focal ischemic group. Patients with senile sclerotic discs had a significantly higher prevalence of ischemic heart disease; they also had a higher prevalence of systemic hypertension, which did not reach statistical significance. Migraine was 2.5 times more frequent in the focal ischemic group than in the other groups. Intraocular pressure was significantly higher in the generalized enlargement group. The pattern of visual field defect in the four groups also was distinctly different.

Conclusions: Patients with different disc appearances, selected only from their disc photographs, showed differences in their demographic characteristics, prevalence of certain systemic risk factors, intraocular pressure levels, and the pattern of their visual field damage. These findings suggest that these various disc appearances probably represent different populations of patients with glaucoma with, possibly, different pathogenic mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / etiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myopia / epidemiology
  • Myopia / etiology
  • Ocular Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Ocular Hypertension / etiology
  • Ocular Hypertension / pathology*
  • Optic Disk / blood supply
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve / pathology*
  • Photography
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Visual Fields