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TOPIC: Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, despite having good prognosis with early treatment. We evaluated the global extent of undetected glaucoma and the factors associated with it in this systematic review and meta-analysis. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Undetected glaucoma increases the risk of vision impairment, which leads to detrimental effects on the quality-of-life and socioeconomic well-being of those affected. Detailed information on the extent and factors associated with undetected glaucoma aid in the development of public health interventions. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of population-based studies published between January 1, 1990, and June 1, 2020. Article search was conducted in online databases (PubMED, Web-of-Science), grey literatures (OpenGrey), and nongovernment organization reports. Our outcome measure was the proportion of glaucoma cases that were undetected previously. Manifest glaucoma included any form of glaucoma reported in the original studies and may include primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), primary angle-closure-glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, or a combination thereof. Undetected glaucoma was defined as glaucoma cases that were undetected prior to diagnosis in the respective study. Random-effect meta-analysis was used to estimate the pooled proportion of undetected glaucoma. We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and the Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines in our study. RESULTS: We identified 61 articles from 55 population-based studies (n = 189 359 participants; n = 6949 manifest glaucoma). Globally, more than half of all glaucoma cases were undetected previously on average in each geographical region. Africa (odds ratio [OR], 12.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.91-32.86) and Asia (OR, 3.41; 95% CI, 1.63-7.16) showed higher odds of undetected glaucoma as compared with Europe. Countries with low Human Development Index (HDI; <0.55) showed a higher proportion of undetected manifest glaucoma as compared with countries of medium to very high HDI (≥0.55; all P < 0.001). In 2020, 43.78 million POAG cases were projected to be undetected, of which 76.7% were in Africa and Asia. DISCUSSION: Undetected glaucoma is highly prevalent across diverse communities worldwide and more common in Africa and Asia. Strategies to improve detection are needed to prevent excess visual disability and blindness resulting from glaucoma.
Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore, Republic of Singapore; Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Republic of Singapore.Full article