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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

The direction of research into visual disability and quality of life in glaucoma

Fiona C Glen1, David P Crabb1* and David F Garway-Heath2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Optometry and Visual Science, City University London, UK

2 NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK

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BMC Ophthalmology 2011, 11:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-11-19

Published: 4 August 2011



Glaucoma will undoubtedly impact on a person's ability to function as they go about their day-to-day life. The purpose of this study is to investigate the amount of published knowledge in quality of life (QoL) and visual disability studies for glaucoma, and make comparisons with similar research in other chronic conditions.


A systematic literature search of the Global Health, EMBASE Psychiatry and MEDLINE databases. Title searches for glaucoma and six other example chronic diseases were entered alongside a selection of keywords chosen to capture studies focusing on QoL and everyday task ability. These results were further filtered during a manual search of resulting abstracts. Outcomes were the number of publications per year for each disease, number relating to QoL and type of glaucoma QoL research.


Fifteen years ago there were no published studies relating to the impact of glaucoma on QoL but by 2009 this had risen to 1.2% of all glaucoma articles. The number of papers relating to QoL as a proportion of all papers in glaucoma in the past 10 years (0.6%) is smaller than for AMD and some other disabling chronic diseases. Most QoL studies in glaucoma (82%) involve questionnaires.


QoL studies in glaucoma are increasing in number but represent a tiny minority of the total publications in glaucoma research. There are fewer QoL articles in glaucoma compared to some other disabling chronic conditions. The majority of QoL articles in glaucoma research use questionnaires; performance-based measures of visual disability may offer an additional method of determining how the disease impacts on QoL.