Patient compliance to eye drop use is an ongoing problem, and a new study found that the behavior was lower than expected among patients with corneal diseases, even for severe cases such as corneal graft recipients. The older participants in the study were more diligent than the younger ones.

The prospective cohort study investigated eye drop adherence patterns in 199 adults with corneal diseases. Each patient completed an adapted version of the 12-question Adherence to Refills and Medications Scale (ARMS) and the three-question Voils’ Medication Adherence Scale (VMAS). The researchers categorized patients as adherent or nonadherent.

They found that 72% of patients were considered nonadherent by the ARMS and 33% by the VMAS. They noted that older age was associated with higher adherence by the ARMS and VMAS. “Older adults have been shown to schedule daily activities around their medication regimen, in contrast to younger patients who try to accommodate their medication regimen into their own daily schedule, not prioritizing medications compared with other tasks,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Consequently, younger patients allocate and use very little cognitive resources to remembering to maintain adherence.”

Results showed no significant associations with race, sex, education level, total doses of eye medications or primary corneal diagnosis.

Based on these findings, the investigators concluded that clinicians should engage in conversations with patients about the importance of medication adherence, especially with younger patients.

Khan M, Michelson S, Newman-Casey PA, et al. Medication adherence among patients with corneal diseases. Cornea. March 5, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].