Comparative optic disc analysis in normal pressure glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, and ocular hypertension

Ophthalmology. 1996 Dec;103(12):2105-13. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(96)30382-5.


Purpose: The authors wished to determine whether characteristics of optic disc and parapapillary atrophy differ between eyes with ocular hypertension, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and those with normal-pressure glaucoma, including a subset of patients with normal-pressure glaucoma with evidence of serum abnormalities of humoral autoimmunity.

Methods: Three hundred ninety-two eyes of 196 patients with ocular hypertension, 394 eyes of 197 patients with POAG, and 135 eyes of 68 patients with normal-pressure glaucoma were analyzed. Nerve fiber layer hemorrhage in the optic disc region, retinal arteriolar narrowing, and morphometric parameters of optic disc and parapapillary atrophy were investigated in these groups. Parapapillary atrophy was differentiated in two different zones (alpha and beta).

Results: Nerve fiber layer hemorrhage and arteriolar narrowing were found more frequently in patients with normal-pressure glaucoma than in patients with POAG (P = 0.014, P = 0.004) and ocular hypertension (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001). Zone beta was detected more often in patients with normal-pressure glaucoma than in those with ocular hypertension (P < 0.001) and POAG (P = 0.013). Although patients with normal-pressure glaucoma had more advanced neural rim loss and larger parapapillary atrophy, there were similar correlations between neural rim area and the area and extension of parapapillary atrophy in patients with normal-pressure glaucoma and POAG. Parapapillary atrophy parameters also were similar in different stages of neural rim damage in patients with normal-pressure glaucoma and POAG (P > 0.05). Optic disc characteristics were not different (P > 0.05) between the subgroups of patients with normal-pressure glaucoma.

Conclusion: The authors' findings support the idea that besides the enlargement of the area and extension of parapapillary atrophy that accompanies neural damage in glaucoma, the severity of the parapapillary atrophy also increases as assessed by the increase in zone beta in more damaged eyes. Furthermore, the final clinical appearance of optic nerve damage is similar among patients with POAG, normal-pressure glaucoma, and the subgroups of normal-pressure glaucoma, regardless of their possibly different mechanisms of neuropathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / pathology*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Ocular Hypertension / pathology*
  • Optic Atrophy / pathology
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Photography
  • Retinal Artery Occlusion / pathology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology