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Glaucoma Survey Highlights Patients’ Concerns

■ The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, said results from a national survey designed to assess the impact of glaucoma on patients and caregivers reveal that glaucoma impacts patients and their caregivers on a daily basis, and that many patients struggle to effectively control their disease. The survey was supported by Aerie Pharmaceuticals.

A total of 1,548 adult glaucoma patients and, separately, 60 glaucoma-patient family and friends who serve as caregivers, completed GRF’s National Glaucoma Impact Survey. Overall, findings confirm that glaucoma has a daily impact on the majority of patients and caregivers — not only because of the practical issues caused by medication management and vision loss, but also because it creates anxiety, fear, and even depression for many.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of all patients say the disease impacts their lives on a daily basis. This impact is even more pronounced among African-American patients (72%).

Patients worry about losing their vision (76% are very or extremely concerned) and their ability to drive (65% are very or extremely concerned), as well as other hallmarks of independence (50% are very or extremely concerned about their ability to live independently; 37% are very or extremely concerned about their ability to care for themselves).

In addition to the emotional impact of glaucoma, patients report that they have difficulty controlling their disease and are dissatisfied with their prescription eye drops. Almost 90% of glaucoma patients take eye drops. Patients take an average of 3 drops per eye, per day to manage their disease. But when physicians discuss a new treatment option with patients, they are almost twice as likely to suggest surgery than adding eye drops or switching eye drops. Patients say they would strongly prefer receiving a new type of prescription eye drop to undergoing surgery if they need a new or different treatment.

About 52% of those surveyed say that they are “not at all,” “slightly,” or “moderately” satisfied with the drops they use. One-third of patients report that they miss an eye drop dose at least 2 to 3 times per month. While most patients know their last IOP measurement and their IOP goal (89% and 84%, respectively), just 53% say they achieve and maintain it.

“It is alarming but not surprising that only about half of patients are able to keep their intraocular pressure under control,” said Thomas Brunner, GRF president and CEO, in a news release. “The glaucoma community is clearly doing a good job educating patients about the importance of IOP, and as the list of available medications and new surgical procedures continues to grow, we will have a greater opportunity to individualize glaucoma therapy and improve outcomes.”