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.