Exploring the link between deprivation and glaucoma severity at first presentation

Scottish researchers have highlighted that higher levels of deprivation are associated with worse glaucoma severity at diagnosis

sight test
Pixabay/Paul Diaconu

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion have examined the relationship between deprivation and the severity of glaucoma at diagnosis.

The research, which was published in Eye, found that 14.3% of patients living in the most deprived areas had a standard automated perimetry mean deviation (MD) equal to or worse than −6 dB in the better eye at diagnosis, compared to only 6.8% of patients living in the least deprived areas.

Only 0.8% of patients living in the least deprived areas had a MD equal to or worse than −12 dB in the better eye at diagnosis, compared with 4.8% of patients in the most deprived areas.

The researchers highlighted that people in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to have long term health conditions and develop multiple illnesses at a younger age.

“Those from lower socio-economic backgrounds may experience barriers to accessing health care, for example due to direct costs such as transport or medication costs, or due to indirect costs such as loss of earnings due to time away from work,” the researchers shared.

They added that uptake of eye care services is still uneven across different socio-economic groups, even though the Scottish Government introduced free eye examinations for all people living in Scotland in 2006.

“Costs may still be a barrier due to the potential costs of spectacles or ancillary tests such as optical coherence tomography,” the authors noted.

The scientists concluded: “As late diagnosis is a major risk factor for glaucoma blindness, it is important that measures are taken to reduce inequalities in glaucoma diagnosis due to deprivation.”