Percentage of patients aged 18 years and older with a diagnosis of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) who have an optic nerve head evaluation during one or more visits within 12 months
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. In 2011, 2.71 million persons in the U.S. had primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and in 2050, an estimated 7.32 million persons will have POAG (Vajaranant, Wu, Torres, & Varma, 2012). Furthermore, a study by Rein, Zhang, & Wirth (2006) estimated that the total financial burden of major visual disorders among U.S. residents aged 40 years or older was $35.4 billion in 2004: $16.2 billion in direct medical costs, $11.1 billion in other direct costs, and $8 billion in productivity losses. Of the direct medical costs, approximately $2.9 billion was attributable to glaucoma (Rein, Zhang, & Wirth, 2006). It is imperative that evidence-based care be delivered to all glaucoma patients.
According to recent guidelines, optic nerve changes are one of the characteristics which reflect progression of glaucoma (the other characteristic is visual field). Examination of the optic nerve head (ONH) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) provides valuable structural information about optic nerve damage from glaucoma. Visible structural alterations of the ONH or RNFL may precede the onset of visual field defects. Careful study of the optic disc neural rim for small hemorrhages is important because these hemorrhages sometimes signal focal disc damage and visual field loss, and they may signify ongoing optic nerve damage in patients with glaucoma (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2015). Despite evidence emphasizing the value of an optic nerve evaluation, there is a gap in documentation patterns of the optic nerve for both initial and follow-up care.
This measure is intended to promote examination and documentation of the structure and function of the optic nerve, and to monitor and detect disease progression among patients diagnosed with POAG.
Clinical Recommendation Statement
The ophthalmic evaluation specifically focuses on the following elements in the comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation:
- Visual acuity measurement
- Pupil examination
- Anterior segment examination
- IOP measurement
- Optic nerve head (ONH) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) examination
- Fundus examination
- (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2015)
The optic nerve should be carefully examined for the signs of glaucoma damage, and its appearance should be serially documented (I+, moderate quality, strong recommendation) (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2015).