You may chalk it up to the placebo effect or call it pseudoscience, but research shows that the perception of a disease can impact its course.1 For glaucoma patients, a new study shows the perception for whose with manifest glaucoma and those ocular hypertensive (OHT) patients—who are merely at risk of glaucoma—are similar. That’s a problem, according to researchers, who say OHT patients may benefit from better education about their diagnosis.2 They say highlighting the better prognosis, compared with those who already have primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), may improve their quality of life.2

The investigators looked into 58 records of patients who have had their diagnosis for more than two years. All participants completed the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ), EQ5D general health measure and Type D Personality Scale (DS14). Their review of these records found that average BIPQ scores were similar for people newly diagnosed with POAG and POAG diagnosed more than two years. These results were also no different to newly diagnosed OHT and POAG diagnosed more than two years ago.2

The team even compensated for personality type (using the DS14) and general health (EQ5D). They were able to determine that newly diagnosed patients with POAG to have marginally better illness perceptions on individual BIPQ items quantifying impact on life in general, experience of symptoms and understanding their condition.2 

1. Lambiase M, Kubzansky L, Thurston R. Positive psychological health and stroke risk: The benefits of emotional vitality. Health Psychology2015;34(10):1043-6.

2. McDonald L, Boodhna T, Ajtony C, et al. Illness perceptions in people newly diagnosed with glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Bri J Ophthalmol. May 11, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].