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Screening for Glaucoma in AdultsUpdated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force

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Importance  Two 2013 systematic reviews to inform the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found insufficient evidence to assess benefits and harms of screening for primary open-angle glaucoma (OAG) in adults.

Objective  To update the 2013 reviews on screening for glaucoma, to inform the USPSTF.

Data Sources  Ovid MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (to February 2021); surveillance through January 21, 2022.

Study Selection  Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of screening, referral, and treatment; and studies of screening test diagnostic accuracy.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  One investigator abstracted data and a second checked accuracy. Two investigators independently assessed study quality.

Results  Eighty-three studies (N = 75 887) were included (30 trials and 53 diagnostic accuracy studies). One RCT (n = 616) found screening of frail elderly persons associated with no difference in vision outcomes vs no screening but with significantly greater falls risk (relative risk [RR], 1.31 [95% CI, 1.13-1.50]). No study evaluated referral to an eye health professional. For glaucoma diagnosis, spectral domain optical coherence tomography (providing high-resolution cross-sectional imaging; 15 studies, n = 4242) was associated with sensitivity of 0.79 (95% CI, 0.75-0.83) and specificity of 0.92 (95% CI, 0.87-0.96) and the Humphrey Visual Field Analyzer (for perimetry, or measurement of visual fields; 6 studies, n = 11 244) with sensitivity of 0.87 (95% CI, 0.69-0.95) and specificity 0.82 (95% CI, 0.66-0.92); tonometry (for measurement of intraocular pressure; 13 studies, n = 32 892) had low sensitivity (0.48 [95% CI, 0.31-0.66]). Medical therapy for ocular hypertension and untreated glaucoma was significantly associated with decreased intraocular pressure and decreased likelihood of glaucoma progression (7 trials, n = 3771; RR, 0.68 [95% CI, 0.49-0.96]; absolute risk difference −4.2%) vs placebo, but 1 trial (n = 461) found no differences in visual acuity, quality of life, or function. Selective laser trabeculoplasty and medical therapy had similar outcomes (4 trials, n = 957).

Conclusions and Relevance  This review found limited direct evidence on glaucoma screening, showing no association with benefits. Screening tests can identify persons with glaucoma and treatment was associated with a lower risk of glaucoma progression, but evidence of improvement in visual outcomes, quality of life, and function remains lacking.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Roger Chou, MD, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Mail Code: BICC, Portland, OR 97239 (chour@ohsu.edu).

Accepted for Publication: April 4, 2022.

Author Contributions: Dr Chou had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Chou, Jonas.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Chou, Selph, Blazina, Bougatsos, Jungbauer, Fu, Grusing, Tehrani.

Drafting of the manuscript: Chou, Selph, Blazina, Bougatsos, Jungbauer, Fu, Grusing.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Chou, Blazina, Jonas, Tehrani.

Statistical analysis: Chou, Selph, Blazina, Fu.

Obtained funding: Chou, Bougatsos, Jonas.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Blazina, Bougatsos, Jungbauer, Grusing, Jonas, Tehrani.

Supervision: Chou, Jonas, Tehrani.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Funding/Support: This research was funded under contract HHSA-290-2015-00011-I, Task Order 75Q80119F32015, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), US Department of Health and Human Services, under a contract to support the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: Investigators worked with US Preventive Services Task Force members and AHRQ staff to develop the scope, analytic framework, and key questions for this review. AHRQ had no role in study selection, quality assessment, or synthesis. AHRQ staff provided project oversight, reviewed the report to ensure that the analysis met methodological standards, and distributed the draft for peer review. Otherwise, AHRQ had no role in the conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript findings. The opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of AHRQ or the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Additional Contributions: We thank the following individuals for their contributions to this project: Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center Librarian, Tracy Dana, MLS; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Medical Officer, Justin Mills, MD, MPH; as well as the US Preventive Services Task Force. We also acknowledge past and current USPSTF members who contributed to topic deliberations. The USPSTF members, external reviewers, and federal partner reviewers did not receive financial compensation for their contributions.

Additional Information: A draft version of this evidence report underwent external peer review from 4 content experts (April Maa, MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Emory Eye Center; Atlanta VA Medical Center; Nancy Weintraub, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles; Jennifer Evans, PhD, MSc, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and 1 nondisclosed reviewer) and federal partners representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comments were presented to the USPSTF during its deliberation of the evidence and were considered in preparing the final evidence report.

Editorial Disclaimer: This evidence report is presented as a document in support of the accompanying USPSTF Recommendation Statement. It did not undergo additional peer review after submission to JAMA.

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