Patient compliance with ocular drops is often a significant challenge for glaucoma care. But there isn’t one simple fix; factors affecting compliance may encompass everything from education and income levels to systemic health challenges and availability of support persons. Among these variables, access to and affordability of medications often presents a significant burden to patients. In a recent cross-sectional study, researchers analyzed responses from the 2016-2017 National Health Interview Survey to determine the rates of cost-related non-adherence to medications among US adults with glaucoma to determine if the participants with glaucoma had more cost-related medication non-adherence than those without glaucoma.

In addition to those who couldn’t afford a prescription medication, respondents said they employed these measures to save money:

  • Took less medicine
  • Delayed filling a prescription
  • Asked doctor for lower cost medication
  • Bought prescription drugs from another country
  • Used alternative therapies

In their analysis, the researchers found that survey participants with glaucoma reported that they couldn’t afford a prescribed medication more frequently than participants without glaucoma (8.2% vs. 6.4%). Those with glaucoma also said they had greater cost-related barriers to medication access.

Based on their review, the researchers recommended that providers be aware of these findings when prescribing medication for their glaucoma patients and consider the impact of medication cost on the patient’s ability to adhere to therapy.

Gupta D, Ehrlich JR, Newman-Casey PA, et al. Cost-related medication non-adherence in a nationally representative U.S. population with self-reported glaucoma. Ophthalmology. August 21, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].