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Glaucoma Patients Worry About Managing Disease During Pandemic

Delayed or canceled appointments during lockdown causing the greatest concern

eye exam

WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Glaucoma patients are concerned about managing their condition during the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to the results of a survey released by the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF).

With support from Aerie Pharmaceuticals, the GRF conducted an online survey of 1,051 adult glaucoma patients (responses from 49 states) over four days in May 2020.

According to the results of the survey, one-third of glaucoma patients were not confident that their disease was well managed during the initial months of the pandemic (36 percent were "somewhat confident" or "not confident"). There were no associations between confidence level and patients' age, gender, or geography. More than half of the patients (53 percent) said they had to delay or cancel a glaucoma appointment during the first months of the pandemic. Patients with the lowest levels of confidence regarding their glaucoma management were 30 percent more likely to have had an eye care appointment delayed or canceled versus patients with higher levels of confidence. Top concerns ("very worried" or "extremely worried") included: vision getting worse/losing vision (13 percent), not being able to have an appointment with an eye doctor in person (12 percent), not being able to have a quality appointment due to social distancing and face masks (12 percent), and not having good control of intraocular pressure (10 percent). The pandemic did not impact access to glaucoma medication and adherence to treatment regimens.

"A percentage of patients clearly struggled with the inability to see their eye care professional during the lockdowns, but it is reassuring to know that many of our patients were not overly worried about vision loss during this period and nearly all were able to adhere to their treatment regimens," GRF board chair Andrew Iwach, M.D., said in a statement.

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