Optic disc hemorrhages in a population with and without signs of glaucoma

Ophthalmology. 1998 Feb;105(2):216-23. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(98)92704-x.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / complications*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ocular Hypertension / complications
  • Optic Disk*
  • Prevalence
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Vision Disorders / complications
  • Visual Fields