Objective: This study aimed to determine the prevalence and associations of optic disc hemorrhage in a well-defined older Australian population.
Design: The study design was a population-based, cross-sectional study.
Participants: A total of 3654 persons 49 years of age or older, representing 88% of permanent residents from an area west of Sydney, participated in the study.
Main outcome measures: Participants underwent a detailed eye examination. The diagnosis of optic disc hemorrhage was made from masked photographic grading; disc hemorrhages were subclassified as flame or blot in shape. Open-angle glaucoma was diagnosed from matching visual field loss and optic disc rim thinning.
Results: The overall prevalence of disc hemorrhage in either or both eyes was 1.4%. Disc hemorrhage prevalence was higher in women (odds radios [OR], 1.9; confidence interval [CI], 1.0-3.5) and increased with age (OR, 2.2 per decade; CI, 1.7-2.8 per decade). The overall prevalence in subjects with open-angle glaucoma was 13.8% (8% in high-pressure glaucoma and 25% in low-pressure glaucoma) and 1.5% in subjects with ocular hypertension. Disc hemorrhages were associated with increasing intraocular pressure (OR, 1.7 per 5 mmHg; CI, 1.3-2.3 per 5 mmHg), pseudoexfoliation (OR, 3.5; CI, 1.1-11.8), diabetes (OR, 2.9; CI, 1.4-6.3), and increasing systolic blood pressure (OR, 1.1 per 10 mmHg; CI, 1.0-1.3) after adjusting for age and gender. Among subjects without open-angle glaucoma, disc hemorrhages were more frequent in eyes with larger vertical cup-disc ratios and in subjects with a history of typical migraine headache (OR, 2.2; CI, 1.1-4.6). No associations were found among subjects with a history of vascular events, smoking, regular aspirin use, or myopia.
Conclusions: Disc hemorrhage prevalence in this population is higher than that in the two previous population-based reports. Although the strong association of disc hemorrhage with open-angle glaucoma was confirmed (particularly low-pressure glaucoma), most disc hemorrhages (70%) were found in participants without definite signs of glaucoma.