BACKGROUND: There are more than one million National Health Service visits in England and Wales each year for patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension (OHT). With the ageing population and an increase in optometric testing, the economic burden of glaucoma-related visits is predicted to increase. We examined the conversion rates of OHT to primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) in England and assessed factors associated with risk of conversion.
METHODS: Electronic medical records of 45 309 patients from five regionally different glaucoma clinics in England were retrospectively examined. Conversion to POAG from OHT was defined by deterioration in visual field (two consecutive tests classified as stage 1 or worse as per the glaucoma staging system 2). Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine factors (age, sex, treatment status and baseline intraocular pressure (IOP)) associated with conversion.
RESULTS: The cumulative risk of conversion to POAG was 17.5% (95% CI 15.4% to 19.6%) at 5 years. Older age (HR 1.35 per decade, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.50, p<0.001) was associated with a higher risk of conversion. IOP-lowering therapy (HR 0.45, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.57, p<0.001) was associated with a lower risk of conversion. Predicted 5-year conversion rates for treated and untreated groups were 14.0% and 26.9%, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Less than one-fifth of OHT patients managed in glaucoma clinics in the UK converted to POAG over a 5-year period, suggesting many patients may require less intensive follow-up. Our study provides real-world evidence for the efficacy of current management (including IOP-lowering treatment) at reducing risk of conversion.