Differentiating patients with glaucoma from glaucoma suspects and normal subjects by nerve fiber layer assessment with scanning laser polarimetry

Ophthalmology. 1998 Nov;105(11):2068-76. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(98)91127-7.


Purpose: A study was conducted to determine normative data for nerve fiber layer measurements as obtained by scanning laser polarimetry with the Laser Diagnostic Technologies Nerve Fiber Analyzer II, identify factors affecting the measurements, and identify parameters capable of differentiating normal subjects from patients with glaucoma and patients suspected of having glaucoma because of ocular hypertension or because of a large cup-to-disc ratio (GS-disc).

Design: A case series.

Participants: Four hundred normal subjects, 35 patients with ocular hypertension, 42 patients with glaucoma, and 17 glaucoma suspects based on optic disc appearance participated.

Methods: Nerve fiber layer thickness assessments were determined in normal subjects (with normal-appearing optic nerves and normal visual fields). The results were compared to measurements from samples of age-matched patients with ocular hypertension (with normal visual fields), patients suspected of having glaucoma based on enlarged cup-to-disc ratios, and patients with open-angle glaucoma who had visual field loss.

Results: The majority of the parameters derived from the measurements showed no significant relationship to age, although some parameters tended to decrease with increasing age. Multiple parameters showed statistically significant differences between normal subjects and patients with glaucoma. In particular, the intraellipse sector variability, an indirect measure of the shape of the nerve fiber layer in an ellipse surrounding the nerve head, showed statistically significant differences between normal subjects and patients with glaucoma as well as between glaucoma suspects and normal subjects. Similar results were seen with the superior maxima, the average thickness assessment value of the 1500 thickest points in the superior bundle.

Conclusions: Assessments of nerve fiber layer thickness as determined by scanning laser polarimetry can differentiate patients with glaucoma from normal subjects and may identify otherwise undetected damage in glaucoma suspects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / instrumentation*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Lasers
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology*
  • Ocular Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve / pathology*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields