Objective: To evaluate the current published literature on the use of optic nerve head (ONH) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) measurement devices in diagnosing open-angle glaucoma and detecting progression. Methods: A search of peer-reviewed literature was conducted on February 15, 2006 in PubMed and the Cochrane Library for the period January 2003 to February 2006. The search was limited to studies of adults in English-language journals and yielded 442 citations. The panel reviewed the abstracts of these articles and selected 159 articles of possible clinical relevance for review. Of these 159 full-text articles, 82 were determined to be relevant for the first author and methodologist to review and rate according to the quality of evidence. Results: There were no studies classified as having the highest level of evidence (level I). The ONH and RNFL imaging instruments reviewed in this assessment were determined to be highly effective in distinguishing eyes with glaucomatous visual field (VF) loss from normal eyes without VF loss, based on level II evidence. In addition, some studies demonstrated that parameters from ONH or RNFL imaging predicted the development of VF defects among glaucoma suspects. Studies on detecting glaucoma progression showed that although there was often agreement on progression between the structural and functional (VF) tests, a significant proportion of glaucoma patients progressed by either the structural or the functional test alone. Conclusions: The ONH and RNFL imaging devices provide quantitative information for the clinician. Based on studies that have compared the various available technologies directly, there is no single imaging device that outperforms the others in distinguishing patients with glaucoma from controls. Ongoing advances in imaging and related software, as well as the impracticalities associated with obtaining and assessing optic nerve stereophotographs, have made imaging increasingly important in many practice settings. The information obtained from imaging devices is useful in clinical practice when analyzed in conjunction with other relevant parameters that define glaucoma diagnosis and progression.
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