Hilary Goh was the Gordon Sanderson Scholarship recipient for 2018 – this is a summary of some the findings in her research.

Primary open angle glaucoma is an insidious disease that causes progressive vision loss and characteristic optic nerve changes. Although ocular hypertension is the most well known risk factor for glaucoma, vascular risk factors may also play a key role in glaucoma pathogenesis. Nailfold capillary abnormalities are systemic markers of vascular dysfunction that have been shown to occur in glaucoma.

This study aims to identify which nailfold capillary abnormalities occur in glaucoma and to establish whether nailfold capillaroscopy can be used to predict glaucoma severity and the risk of central vision loss. Our research suggests that glaucoma patients tend to have disorganized nailfold capillaries with reduced capillary density and more avascular zones.

The presence of disorganized nailfold capillaries, avascular zones and haemorrhages’ are also associated with increased glaucoma severity and central vision loss. This shows that vascular abnormalities in glaucoma extend beyond the eye and that nailfold capillaroscopy is a potential adjunct that can be used clinically for glaucoma screening and assessment

Gordon Sanderson Scholar 2018

Dr Hillary Goh

Fifth-year medical student, University of Auckland

Presenting her work at the Auckland Summer Student Symposium in March  Goh concluded that primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) patients did indeed have nailfold capillary (NFC) abnormalities and abnormal NFC is associated with increased risk of POAG and more severe visual field loss. However, more studies were needed as was an improved capillary grading system, she said.

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