The saving grace of glaucoma has long been preservation of central vision, but new research finds that patients may still have more difficulty reading compared with healthy individuals of the same age, a new study in the Journal of Glaucoma reports.  Specifically, individuals with glaucoma read about 19 fewer words per minute compared with controls, which represented an approximately 19% lower average reading speed.

The cross-sectional investigation enrolled 35 glaucoma patients and 32 similarly aged controls with visual acuity better than 0.4 logMAR in both eyes. There was no significant difference in gender, rage, education, VA or systemic comorbidities between groups. Each participant had a detailed eye exam followed by a five-chart reading performance test.

In glaucoma patients, the mean deviations in the better and worse eyes were -6.29±6.36dB and -11.08 ±0.23dB, respectively. These participants had significantly slower reading speeds, with an average of 83.2±25.12 words per minute compared with 102.29±29.57 words per minute in healthy individuals. Also of note: the reading speed in the glaucoma group was slower on all five charts.

Additionally, there was a 1.29x increased odds of glaucoma for every 10 words per minute decrease in average reading speed, which was maintained after accounting for age, schooling and VA.

Further studies are needed to assess the real impact of worsened reading performance on daily tasks and to explore whether interventions may be possible to improve reading performance in these patients, the study authors concluded.

Ikeda MC, Bando AH, Hamada KU, et al. Is reading performance impaired in glaucoma patients with preserved central vision? J Glaucoma. February 3, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].