Certain aspects of the lamina cribrosa have been previously associated with an increased risk of glaucoma progression, and recent research has implied that there are racial differences in the structure’s remodeling response of the load bearing connective tissues of the optic nerve. After computing the rate of change in anterior lamina cribrosa surface depth, the researchers noted a wider range of surface depth change in the group of patients of European descent compared with the group of African descent, and more individuals had greater magnitude of both deepening and shallowing.
The study examined 1,122 images taken longitudinally over an average of three years from 122 patients with glaucoma followed in the African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation Study and Diagnostic Intervention and Glaucoma Study.
Unlike the cross-sectional associations seen with aging, in which a deeper surface depth was seen with age in the European descent group, glaucomatous remodeling resulted in more posterior migration of surface in the European descent group by 2.57µm/year compared with African descent. The researchers suggest that this indicates a possible differential effect across these racial groups in remodeling of the optic nerve head and possibly help understand the differential susceptibility to glaucomatous injury and progression between these two racial groups.
“Additional follow-up is needed to define the relationship between changes in the supportive load bearing connective tissues of the optic nerve head and the progressive injury to the overlying neurovascular tissues they support,” the researchers concluded in their paper.
Girkin CA, Belghith A, Bowd C, et al. Racial differences in the rate of change in anterior lamina cribrosa surface depth in the African Descent and Glaucoma Evaluation Study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2021;62(4):12.