An Australian study aims to increase knowledge and awareness of the increased risk of glaucoma to close family members of people with the disease. Targeting At Risk Relatives of Glaucoma patients for Early diagnosis and Treatment study (TARRGET), will be funded by Flinders University (SA), the Lions Eye Institute (WA), and Glaucoma Australia. The pilot phase of the study is planned to run for one year, with a further one year extension planned.
According to Geoff Pollard, National Executive Officer of Glaucoma Australia, first-degree relatives (children, siblings, and parents) of affected patients are more than nine times more likely to develop the disease over their lifetime. Those who are diagnosed with glaucoma and treated early in the disease process have a much better chance that good vision can be maintained throughout their life.
The TARRGET study will use new ‘state of the art’ diagnostic approaches to determine what the pick-up rate will be amongst first-degree relatives, when starting with a family member who already meets the criteria of Australian and New Zealand Registry of Advanced Glaucoma (ANZRAG) for advanced field loss in a least one eye.
The investigators will randomly select 200 cases of open angle glaucoma from ANZRAG across the two study sites, and then offer a free comprehensive glaucoma screening test for any of their first-degree family members over the age of 40 (younger in certain instances). The plan is to include all close relatives, whether they have previously been seen or not, and whether they believe they are affected or not. This should provide a clear answer as to how effective the new screening strategies could be if they were applied more widely.
Mr. Pollard said a study such as this could help to advocate for changes to Government policy so as to improve access and affordability for effective glaucoma screening strategies.