• Written By: John T. Lind, MD

    This retrospective study found that approximately one in six glaucoma patients will go bilaterally blind in their lifetime, while more than 40 percent will go blind in at least one eye.

    It is noteworthy that the population studied only included patients with primary open-angle glaucoma and pseudoexfolation glaucoma. Pseudoexfoliation glaucoma represented 40.2 percent of the patient population and the median age at death was 87 years old, which is likely not representative of the glaucoma population in the United States.

    The authors reviewed the charts of 592 patients in the Swedish city of Malmo with manifest glaucoma and visual field loss who died between January 1, 2006, and June 30, 2010.

    At the time of the last visit, 250 patients (42.2 percent) had at least one blind eye because of glaucoma, while 97 patients (16.4 percent) were bilaterally blind, and 12 patients (0.5 percent) had low vision. Median time with a glaucoma diagnosis was 12 years, median age when developing bilateral blindness was 86 years, and median duration of bilateral blindness was two years. The cumulative incidence for glaucoma-related blindness in at least one eye and bilateral blindness was 26.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, at 10 years and 38.1 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively, at 20 years after diagnosis.

    They note that with life expectancies increasing, glaucoma patients will have the disease for longer and it is possible that the lifetime risk of glaucoma blindness may increase even further.