Within the realm of eye care, ensuring that glaucoma patients get their prescribed medication is paramount. Optometrists and ophthalmologists know the impact that lost vision can have on quality of life and the statistics regarding glaucoma’s sight-stealing capabilities.1,2 For these reasons, eye care practitioners hammer home the value of glaucoma medications, which can preserve vision.2 However, healthcare professionals outside of eye care may not be as attuned to their significance.

For instance, when admitted to inpatient services many patients report that their glaucoma drops are inaccessible or discontinued. These facilities include nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers. Eye doctors have been aware of this problem for some time but, according to a team of New York–based researchers, the scope of the problem is only now being recognized.3 The researchers published their findings in Ophthalmology Glaucoma.3

The team reviewed the records of 475 patients admitted to a general medicine regional floor service from January 2016 to February 2018 with known glaucoma prescriptions. They found a 36.2% rate of eye drop abstinence during their hospital stay. Only 42.5% of patients even had their glaucoma drop regimen noted in their intake history and physical.3 The researchers noted a significant difference in drop administration when glaucoma was included in the intake history and physical (75.7% vs. 55.0%).3 To make matters worse, the average age of the patients was 80.2, a group already recognized for noncompliance.3

The study “demonstrates that more than a third of patients admitted to an academic medical center medical service do not receive their glaucoma medications,” the authors noted in their paper. They advocate for emphasizing “appropriate medical reconciliation and recognition of glaucoma as a pertinent past medical problem.”3 

1. Klein R, Klein B. The prevalence of age-related eye diseases and visual impairment in aging: current estimates. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013;54(14):ORSF5-13.        

2. Skalicky S, Goldberg I, McCluskey P. Ocular surface disease and quality of life in patients with glaucoma. Am J Ophthalmol. 2012;153(1):1-9.

3. Nanda T, Tierney P, Blumberg D. Eye-drop abstinence in glaucoma patients admitted to the hospital service: a single institution assessment. Ophthalmol Glaucoma. March 12, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].