Monday, February 12, 2007

Section 12-D: Minimizing the Impact of Glaucoma on Lifestyle

A chronic disease requires chronic treatment. The diagnosis of glaucoma often means a lifetime of ophthalmic exams and treatment. Chronic treatment and monitoring should be incorporated into one’s life with minimal strain or stress to the patient. One of the major factors affecting how likely a patient will be adherent with medications is the impact of glaucoma treatment on a person’s lifestyle. Physically active patients would prefer not to have continual disruptions in their day to administer medications. It is important to minimize the number of medications/doses per day to adequately control glaucoma. The number of prescribed medications increases if glaucoma is uncontrolled with existing medications. Doses per day depend on the prescribed medication. Once-daily dosed medications help minimize the time requirement for administration.

Incorporating medications into a daily routine helps prevent missed doses. Once a routine is established, there is less of a chance of forgetting medications. Until a routine is established and memorized, it is helpful to have written instructions to follow. This eliminates dosing the incorrect eye or using the wrong number of doses.

When glaucoma surgery is warranted, the type of procedure chosen can be influenced by lifestyle choices. Discuss your activities with your doctor to guide surgical treatment. Input from the patient helps to maximize surgical success.

Cost becomes an issue with using glaucoma medications. The average cost per month can be significant depending on the number of medications used. Generic brands are available for some of the eye drops which can decrease their cost substantially. A prescription health plan and other benefits (e.g., veterans’ benefits) also help to defray the cost of these prescription medications. Comparing costs of medications online is another method of finding the most economical alternatives. Using drug delivery aids can prevent wasted doses by effectively delivering the medications to the eye. A discussion with your provider helps coordinate a plan for the most effective and least costly drug regimen.

Take advantage of low vision aids and existing benefits. Computer monitor settings can be changed to increase font size and appearance of the screen for advanced visual loss. In the United States, a person who has significant vision loss or is legally blind (best corrected vision less than 20/200 or visual field < 20º in the better eye) may qualify for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (http://www.ssa.gov/) or tax benefits (http://www.irs.gov/). Directory assistance and other benefits may be available depending on the state of residence. The Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/nls) also provides free library services for the visually impaired and physically disabled. Veterans may also qualify for benefit through their Veterans Administration (http://www.va.gov/).



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