What is the role of lab testing in the workup of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG)?

Updated: Mar 16, 2020
  • Author: Kristin Schmid Biggerstaff, MD; Chief Editor: Inci Irak Dersu, MD, MPH  more...
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Patients suspected of having normal-tension glaucoma may need workup to rule out other causes for optic neuropathy, including, but not limited to, CBC, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), serology for syphilis (micro-hemagglutination-Treponema pallidum [MHA-TP], not Venereal Disease Research Laboratory [VDRL] test), and if suggested by the pattern of visual field loss, neuroimaging.

Progressive visual field loss in a patient with glaucoma is shown in the image below.

Example of progressive visual field loss over time Example of progressive visual field loss over time (from top to bottom) in a patient with glaucoma. Notice the early appearance of an inferior nasal step and arcuate loss, with progressive enlargement and increasing density of the scotomata over time. Courtesy of M. Bruce Shields, MD.

Some researchers have suggested an autoimmune etiology for some glaucomatous optic neuropathies and have identified monoclonal gammopathies. Serum protein electrophoresis can identify these rare individuals.

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