Who's On Your Team?

By Walter O. Whitley, OD, MBA, Chief Medical Editor

Recently, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary with an awesome weekend getaway. We had time to reflect on the past year and be thankful for the many years we have had together. During the weekend, we discussed topics ranging from our kids to our families to friends to life. I could go on and on. We have learned to appreciate everything we have and to be thankful for the support of our close friends and family.

Many patients bring a friend or family member to their visits, which we eye care providers can use to our patients’ advantage. By getting family involved, our patients have more help with their decisions regarding which treatment options are best for them, and friends and families can help improve the patient’s compliance.

When it comes to glaucoma, the most difficult thing for patients to understand is the lack of signs or symptoms the disease has until it reaches an advanced stage. They have many questions about why they are taking medications for a condition that does not affect them—or so they think.

As providers, we understand the importance of educating patients about their condition and the available therapeutic choices. Numerous resources such as disease state pamphlets and websites can complement the educational process. Although it is the patient’s responsibility to adhere to our prescribed regimens, a team approach can help him or her. Where I practice, the staff is always available to answer questions that patients may have about their condition and to provide necessary resources.

The focus of this month’s issue of AOC is advances in glaucoma, from diagnostic technologies to therapeutics available now and, one hopes, in the near future. Many of the changes in glaucoma treatment aim to improve intraocular pressure control and address adherence. In their article, Drs. Kahook, Kaufman, Noecker, and Radcliffe discuss various glaucoma therapies in the pipeline that have novel mechanisms of action and/or provide sustained release of medication to manage intraocular pressure better. The clinicians share their insights into the therapies they are most eager to implement. As for patients, their compliance may be lacking for numerous reasons—cost, polypharmacy, forgetfulness, an improper understanding of the disease, insurance, and dosing regimens. When prescribing therapy, we need to take these factors into account. The support team (staff, family, and friends) can help to identify and address compliance gaps. Other topics that this edition addresses include microinvasive glaucoma surgeries, the use of branded versus generic medications, and ocular surface considerations in glaucoma management.

Using the team approach, we can improve the care we provide for our patients with chronic diseases. Education is key. The more involved the patient and his or her support team are in the process, the better chance we have of effectively addressing their needs and maximizing their quality of life. n