Glaucoma and Reading Speed: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation Project

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Abstract

Objective

To determine if, and at what point, glaucoma affects spoken reading speed.

Methods

Data were collected from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation, a population-based evaluation of visual function and disability in the elderly population. Nonscrolling text was displayed on a screen and the rate words were read aloud was measured. Subjects reading slower than 90 words/min were defined as having impairment. Glaucoma status was determined using optic disc appearance and visual field testing.

Results

One thousand one hundred fifty-four subjects completed evaluations of spoken reading speed and glaucoma status. Univariate analysis demonstrated reading impairment in 16.0% of subjects without glaucoma, 21.1% of subjects with unilateral glaucoma (P = .25), and 28.4% of subjects with bilateral glaucoma (P = .006). Multivariable regression demonstrated nonsignificant increases in the odds of reading impairment for subjects with unilateral (odds ratio, [OR], 1.13; P = .69) and bilateral glaucoma (OR, 1.25; P = .43), though subjects with bilateral glaucoma in the highest quartile of better-eye visual field loss read slower (β = −32 words/min; P = .01) and were more often reading impaired than controls without glaucoma (OR, 3.8; P = .04). Race, cognitive ability, education, and visual acuity were important predictors of reading impairment.

Conclusions

High rates of spoken reading impairment were found throughout this elderly sample. Glaucoma was associated with slower reading and increased reading impairment with advanced bilateral field loss.

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