Prevalence of glaucoma in the Australian National Eye Health Survey

Stuart Keel, Jing Xie, Joshua Foreman, Pei Ying Lee, Mostafa Alwan, Eamonn T Fahy, Peter van Wijngaarden, Jennifer Fan Gaskin, Ghee Soon Ang, Jonathan Crowston, Hugh R Taylor, Mohamed Dirani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To estimate the prevalence of glaucoma in Australia.

Methods: This was a population-based study of 3098 non-Indigenous Australians (50–98 years) and 1738 Indigenous Australians (40–92 years) stratified by remoteness. Each participant underwent a standard examination that included visual field assessment, tonometry and non-mydriatic fundus photography. Two fellowship-trained glaucoma specialists independently assessed relevant case notes (past ocular history, best-corrected visual acuity, frequency doubling technology visual fields, Van Herick grade, intraocular pressure and optic disc-centred photographs) and assigned a diagnosis ranked on a scale of certainty: none, possible, probable or definite glaucoma.

Results: A total of 4792 (99.1%, 3062 non-Indigenous and 1730 Indigenous) participants had retinal photographs in at least one eye that were gradable for glaucoma. The weighted prevalence of glaucoma (definite) in non-Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Australians was 1.5% (95% CI 1.0 to 2.2) and 0.6% (95% CI 0.4 to 1.1), respectively. When definite and probable cases of glaucoma were combined, rates were 3.4% (95% CI 2.7 to 4.3) among non-Indigenous and 1.6% (95% CI 1.1 to 2.3) in Indigenous Australians. Only 52.4% of non-Indigenous Australians and 28.0% of Indigenous Australians with glaucoma self-reported a known history of glaucoma.

Conclusion: We estimate that 198 923 non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 years and over and 2139 Indigenous Australians aged 40 years and over have glaucoma. Given the high rates of undiagnosed glaucoma coupled with a significant ageing of the Australian population, improvements in case detection and access to low vision rehabilitation services may be required to cope with the growing burden of glaucoma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Cite this