Follow-Up with Glaucoma

Glaucoma patients with more severe disease were less likely to follow up with doctors

(RxWiki News) Patients with glaucoma may have a lot to gain from following up with their doctor on a regular basis. Follow-up visits provide doctors a chance to make sure that a patient's treatment is working, and it also gives patients a chance to ask their doctor questions.

A recent study found that patients with a more severe form of glaucoma had poorer follow-up with their doctors than patients with a milder form of the eye disease.

These findings suggest that patient follow-up visits with doctors may affect the severity of glaucoma.

"Follow up regularly with your doctor if you have glaucoma."

This study was led by Cindy Ung from the Department of Opthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine. The research team wanted to see if the severity of glaucoma and use of glaucoma medications were associated with patient follow-up.

The researchers recruited 206 patients with glaucoma from San Francisco General Hospital. The severity of glaucoma was defined as mild, moderate or severe. Use of medication was determined based on data from each patient's pharmacy to see how often prescriptions were being filled.

Follow-up for each patient was defined as either poor or good based on their attendance.

The number of follow-up visits a patient had depended on the severity of their disease.

Overall, about 60 percent of patients were in the poor follow-up group and 40 percent were in the good follow-up group. Slightly more than 75 percent of patients were treating their glaucoma with eye drops, and about 45 percent of patients had a severe form of glaucoma.

The researchers took into account several factors during their analysis, including age, race/ethnicity, sex, insurance coverage, job status, size of household, years with a glaucoma diagnosis, out-of-pocket costs for medication, the number of eye drops that had to be taken each day and whether or not patients had any other diseases.

After taking these factors into account, the researchers found that having severe glaucoma and the use of glaucoma medications were both associated with poor patient follow-up.

These findings show a connection between following up with doctors and how successfully patients manage their glaucoma. As noted by the study authors, regular follow-up helps doctors keep track of the patients's disease and may prevent glaucoma from becoming more severe.

This article was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Opthalmology.

This study was funded in part by Research to Prevent Blindness, That Man May See, Inc. and an NIH grant.

Some of the study authors reported potential conflicts of interest with Allergan, Merck and Alcon.

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Review Date: 
July 18, 2013