Prevalence of Open-angle Glaucoma in the Faroese Population

Elin Holm, Malan Holm, Kaj Vilhelmsen, Gudrid Andorsdottir, Henrik Vorum, Allie Simpson, Benjamin R Roos, John H Fingert, Thomas Rosenberg


PURPOSE: The Faroe Islands are home to 50,000 genetically isolated people in the North Atlantic. The prevalence of open-angle glaucoma (OAG) in the Faroese population is unknown. Consequently, we conducted a survey to determine the prevalence of OAG in the Faroese population. We also investigated the role of known glaucoma-causing genes in Faroese OAG.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a prospective survey of known and newly diagnosed glaucoma patients at the Faroese National Hospital, Landssjukrahusid, Tórshavn between October 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017. In addition we reviewed the only eye care provider in the Faroese Islands by scrutinizing electronic medical records between 2009 and June 15, 2014, October 1, 2015 and the partly overlapping prescriptions for ocular hypotensive medications in 2016 to identify patients with either a diagnosis of glaucoma, a diagnosis of ocular hypertension or a prescription for ocular hypotensive medications. Next, we prospectively confirmed diagnoses with complete eye examinations. Patient DNA samples were tested for variations in known glaucoma-causing genes [myocilin (MYOC), optineurin (OPTN), and TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1)].

RESULTS: We determined the age-related prevalence of OAG January 1, 2017 in individuals 40 years or older to be 10.7/1000 (1.07%) and highly age-related. A diagnosis of OAG was present in 264 patients, of whom 211 (79.9%) had primary OAG (including normal tension glaucoma), 49 (18.6%) had pseudoexfoliation glaucoma, and 4 (1.5%) had pigmentary glaucoma. Among patients receiving medications for glaucoma, nearly 50% had primary OAG, while the majority of the rest had ocular hypertension or secondary glaucoma. No disease-causing variants were detected in MYOC, OPTN, or TBK1.

CONCLUSIONS: The calculated prevalence of OAG in the Faroe Islands was 1.07%. The absence of MYOC, OPTN, or TBK1 disease-causing variants in Faroese primary OAG patients suggests that a different, potentially unique set of genes may be contributing to the pathogenesis of glaucoma in this population.

TidsskriftJournal of Glaucoma
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)72-78
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 1 feb. 2022


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