BACKGROUND--Recent reports indicate that eyes with normal pressure glaucoma have larger optic discs than eyes with primary open angle glaucoma or normal eyes. This study was performed to find whether, in normal pressure glaucoma, a large disc is associated with more optic nerve damage than a small disc. METHODS--Colour optic disc photographs of 74 patients with normal pressure glaucoma were assessed morphometrically. RESULTS--Taking the study group as a whole, the optic disc size decreased significantly (p = 0.04) with increasing visual field defect. In an intraindividual bilateral comparison, the side differences in the disc area of the right minus the left eye of the same individual were not significantly correlated with the side differences in the mean visual field defect. CONCLUSIONS--The results indicate that the eye with the larger optic disc, when compared with the contralateral eye with the smaller optic nerve head, showed neither a significantly more marked nor less pronounced glaucomatous optic nerve damage. It suggests that for a given patient the degree of glaucomatous optic nerve atrophy was not markedly associated with the optic disc size. The finding that patients with large visual field defects had smaller discs than patients with moderate perimetric loss may indicate that the results of previous cross sectional studies reporting on an unusually large disc size in normal pressure glaucoma may be due partially to selection.
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