Symposium tackles difficult issues of glaucoma

April 15, 2005

Cardiovascular medicine has provided a road map that ophthalmology can follow in risk assessment.

The program was jointly sponsored by The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Ophthalmology Times and supported through an unrestricted educational grant from Alcon Laboratories Inc.

Robert N. Weinreb, MD, director, Hamilton Glaucoma Center, and distinguished professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, served as program chairman and moderator for the event.

Assessing risk Cardiovascular medicine has provided a road map that ophthalmology can follow in risk assessment, said Dr. Fechtner, professor of ophthalmology and director, glaucoma division, at the New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.

Cardiologists conducted studies that looked at the risk of a cardiac event based on cholesterol and age, a process similar to assessing the risk of glaucoma by IOP and age, Dr. Fechtner said.

And, in both cardiology and ophthalmology, risk factors have been identified through several large clinical trials, although in the cause of glaucoma, the risks may be different for progression from ocular hypertension to glaucoma from those for progression from glaucoma to more advanced disease, Dr. Fechtner said.

"But a lot of the same risk factors are starting to fall out, and we are beginning to be able to assign values to them," he said.

"In glaucoma we're getting close," Dr. Fechtner said.

"I don't know what the risk factors are going to be or how they'll be weighted, and I don't know how they'll be distributed across age groups.

"But I can tell you that the data sets exist and they're being examined. I would predict we're going to have our first risk calculators available within the next few years," he continued.