PURPOSE: This study aimed to compare the clinical characteristics of patients who showed structural progression in the peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) first against those who showed progression in the macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) first and to investigate clinical parameters that help determine whether a patient exhibits RNFL or GCIPL damage first. METHODS: A retrospective review of medical records of patients diagnosed with early-stage normal-tension glaucoma was performed. All eyes underwent intraocular pressure measurement with Goldmann applanation tonometer, standard automated perimetry, and Cirrus optical coherence tomography at 6-month intervals. Structural progression was determined using the Guided Progression Analysis software. Blood pressure was measured at each visit. RESULTS: Forty-one eyes of 41 patients (mean age, 52.6 ± 16.7 years) were included in the study. In 21 eyes, structural progression was first detected in the RNFL at 54.2 ± 14.8 months, while structural progression was first observed at the macular GCIPL at 40.5 ± 11.0 months in 20 eyes. The mean intraocular pressure following treatment was 13.1 ± 1.8 mmHg for the RNFL progression first group and 13.4 ± 1.8 mmHg for the GCIPL progression first group ( = 0.514). The GCIPL progression first group was older ( = 0.008) and had thinner RNFL at baseline ( = 0.001). The logistic regression analyses indicated that both age and follow-up duration until first progression predicted the region of structural progression (odds ratio, 1.051; 95% confidence interval, 1.001-1.105; = 0.046 for age; odds ratio, 0.912; 95% confidence interval, 0.840-0.991; = 0.029 for time until progression). CONCLUSIONS: Age of glaucoma patients and time until progression are associated with the region of the first structural progression in normal-tension glaucoma. Further studies exploring the association between glaucomatous progression and the location of damage are needed.
Department of Ophthalmology, Institute of Vision Research, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.