The farther away your glaucoma patients live from the clinic and whether they have easy access to a highway may impact their postoperative care, according to a new study. Researchers recently found that increased clinic distance and limited interstate access are associated with a higher risk of missed appointments and loss to follow-up.

This retrospective, longitudinal chart review included 199 adults with glaucoma. The researchers grouped patients based on the distance between their home and the UNC-Chapel Hill Kittner Eye Center and the distance between their home and the nearest interstate.

Six months after glaucoma surgery, the researchers found that patients more than 50 miles from the clinic had greater odds of being lost to follow-up compared with patients less than 25 miles away. They noted that patients with more than 50 miles to commute also had significantly more missed appointments than patients who were closer. They added that patients more than 20 miles from the interstate were more likely lost to follow-up than those less than 10 miles away.

The investigators also discovered that mean distance from the clinic was 12.59 miles further for patients who were lost to follow-up and that patients with Medicaid coverage were more likely to miss an appointment than those with Medicare plans.

“Glaucoma specialists should consider these factors when choosing surgical interventions requiring frequent postoperative evaluations,” the study authors concluded in their paper.

Funk IT, Strelow BA, Klifto MR, et al. The relationship of travel distance to postoperative follow-up care on glaucoma surgery outcomes. J Glaucoma. July 17, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].