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New Recommendation Statement on Glaucoma Screening

Evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against adult screening, task force declares (July 9)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released its final recommendation statement on screening for glaucoma. The Task Force found that there was not enough evidence to determine the accuracy and effectiveness of glaucoma screening in primary care settings for adults who do not have vision problems. Based on this lack of clear evidence, the USPSTF cannot make a recommendation for or against screening adults for glaucoma at this time.

The Task Force’s evidence review focused on primary open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common form of the disease. It affects about 2.5 million Americans, with older adults and African-Americans at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. This form of glaucoma progresses slowly, and people may not detect symptoms of gradual vision loss until the disease is advanced.

The Task Force recommendation applies specifically to screening adults without vision problems in primary care settings. People with vision problems should continue to see their primary care clinician or eye-care specialist to determine which tests and treatments they need. In the absence of definitive evidence for glaucoma screening in primary care for people without vision problems, doctors and patients may choose to rely on expert guidance to decide what is best for the patient’s needs.

While there are many new treatments for glaucoma, the USPSTF found that there is not enough evidence to determine how best to screen for and diagnose glaucoma in adults with no signs or symptoms of vision problems. Also, there is a lack of evidence showing that screening reduces the likelihood of vision loss and blindness.

The Task Force’s final recommendation statement was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine and is available on the USPSTF Web site.

Source: USPSTF; July 9, 2013.

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