A Systematic Review of End-of-Life Visual Impairment in Open-Angle Glaucoma: An Epidemiological Autopsy

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Abstract

Purpose:

Glaucoma patients are still at risk of becoming blind. It is of clinical significance to determine the risk of blindness and its causes to prevent its occurrence. This systematic review estimates the number of treated glaucoma patients with end-of-life visual impairment (VI) and blindness and the factors that are associated with this.

Methods:

A systematic literature search in relevant databases was conducted in August 2014 on end-of-life VI. A total of 2574 articles were identified, of which 5 on end-of-life VI. Several data items were extracted from the reports and presented in tables.

Results:

All studies had a retrospective design. A considerable number of glaucoma patients were found to be blind at the end of their life; with up to 24% unilateral and 10% bilateral blindness. The following factors were associated with blindness: (1) baseline severity of visual field loss: advanced stage of glaucoma or substantial visual field loss at the initial visit; (2) factors influencing progression: fluctuation of intraocular pressure (IOP) during treatment, presence of pseudoexfoliation, poor patient compliance, higher IOP; (3) longer time period: longer duration of disease and older age at death because of a longer life expectancy; and (4) coexistence of other ocular pathology.

Conclusions:

Further prevention of blindness in glaucoma patients is needed. To reach this goal, it is important to address the risk factors for blindness identified in this review, especially those that can be modified, such as advanced disease at diagnosis, high and fluctuating IOP, and poor compliance.

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