Glaucoma can remain asymptomatic until a severe stage, resulting in a high prevalence of undiagnosed glaucoma worldwide. Asia accounts for 60% of the world’s total glaucoma cases. To our knowledge, no epidemiological studies have assessed ethnic differences in undiagnosed glaucoma among various Asian subgroups.
To determine the prevalence of, risk factors for, and visual features of undiagnosed primary glaucoma in a multiethnic Asian population.
Design, Setting, and Participants
The Singapore Epidemiology of Eye Diseases Study is a population-based trial in which 3353 Chinese (2009-2011), 3280 Malays (2004-2006), and 3400 Indians (2007-2009) aged 40 to 80 years were invited for an eye examination, including visual field assessment, to establish glaucoma diagnosis. Participants with undiagnosed glaucoma (ie, answering no to whether they previously had been told by a physician that they had glaucoma, not using glaucoma medication, or not having undergone glaucoma surgery) were identified.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Prevalence of, risk factors for, and visual features of undiagnosed glaucoma.
Of 272 participants with primary glaucoma, 196 (72.1%) were previously undiagnosed. The overall prevalence of undiagnosed primary glaucoma was highest among Malays (2.65%; 95% CI, 2.10%-3.31%), followed by Chinese (1.51%; 95% CI, 1.13%-2.01%) and Indians (0.97%; 95% CI, 0.64%-1.43%). In multivariable analysis, variables associated with higher risk of undiagnosed glaucoma were younger age (odds ratio [OR], 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00-1.09; P = .04), Malay ethnicity (OR, 3.65; 95% CI, 1.31-10.13; P = .01), presence of primary open-angle glaucoma (OR, 3.82; 95% CI, 1.60-9.14; P = .003), absence of yearly eyeglass checks (OR, 9.29; 95% CI, 3.43-25.21; P < .001), and lack of cataract surgery (OR, 4.19; 95% CI, 1.68-10.48; P < .001). No patients were blind in both eyes. A mean (SD) of 4.1% (2.8%) (n = 8) of the newly diagnosed patients were blind in 1 eye, and a mean (SD) of 56.0% (7.2%) (n = 102) had noteworthy visual field damage (mean deviation worse than −6 dB) in at least 1 eye.
Conclusions and Relevance
The prevalence of undiagnosed primary glaucoma varied among ethnic populations in whom a mean (SD) of 49.0% (14.0%) (n = 24) of affected individuals 50 to 59 years old already had clinically significant visual field loss. Such data may assist policymakers in implementing cost-effective public health interventions to reduce the effect of blindness associated with undiagnosed glaucoma.