The number of patients with visual impairment and blindness from glaucoma is rapidly increasing with wide-ranging impacts for individuals and societies. However, the disease often goes undiagnosed for a long time, especially in low- and middle-income countries where healthcare services are limited. This paper presents the results of a pilot programme, which integrated targeted glaucoma screenings of people aged ≥40 y in community-based eye care services in the Ganjam district of Odisha state, India.
Using routine programme data, descriptive statistics were produced for the characteristics of patients participating in the screening programme and the rate and uptake of glaucoma referrals. Bivariate analysis was used to examine associations between patient characteristics, clinical risk factors and glaucoma diagnosis.
Out of 23 356 individuals aged ≥40 y screened for glaucoma over a period of 18 mo, 2219 (9.5%) were referred and 2031 presented for further examination. Among them, almost half (n=968, 48%) were diagnosed with glaucoma, representing a screening to diagnosis conversion rate of 4.14% (95% CI 3.9 to 4.4%). A positive diagnosis of glaucoma among suspects was associated with female sex, age >60 y, visual impairment, vertical cap-to-disc ratio ≥0.6:1, intraocular pressure ≥30 mmHg and shallow anterior chamber (p<0.001).
The importance of targeted screening for glaucoma using simple referral criteria to identify patients at high risk of vision loss who can benefit from treatment is critical to slow the progression of the disease and the prevention of blindness. Further studies assessing costs of the targeted screening, the role of technology in improving programme effectiveness and efficiency and the longer term compliance with treatment are needed to support glaucoma policy frameworks, guidelines and clinical practice.