The prevalence of glaucoma in the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project

Ophthalmology. 1998 Apr;105(4):733-9. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(98)94031-3.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence of glaucoma in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: All subjects were participants in the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project (Melbourne VIP), a population-based prevalence study of eye disease that included residential and nursing home populations. Each participant underwent a standardized eye examination, which included a Humphrey Visual Field test, applanation tonometry, fundus examination including fundal photographs, and a medical history interview. Glaucoma status was determined by a masked assessment and consensus adjudication of visual fields, optic disc photographs, intraocular pressure, and glaucoma history.

Results: A total of 3271 persons (83% response rate) participated in the residential Melbourne VIP. The overall prevalence rate of definite primary open-angle glaucoma in the residential population was 1.7% (95% confidence limits = 1.21, 2.21). Of these, 50% had not been diagnosed previously. Only two persons (0.1%) had primary angle-closure glaucoma and six persons (0.2%) had secondary glaucoma. The prevalence of glaucoma increased steadily with age from 0.1% at ages 40 to 49 years to 9.7% in persons aged 80 to 89 years. There was no relationship with gender. The authors examined 403 (90.2% response rate) nursing home residents. The age standardized rate for this component was 2.36% (95% confidence limits = 0, 4.88).

Conclusion: The rate of glaucoma in Melbourne rises significantly with age. With only half of patients being diagnosed, glaucoma is a major eye health problem and will become increasingly important as the population ages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / complications
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Tonometry, Ocular
  • Victoria / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Visual Fields