In yet another sign that the coronavirus pandemic has pushed critical medical care aside, a new survey finds many glaucoma patients have missed appointments for monitoring their eye disease.
More than half (53%) of 1,051 U.S. respondents said they had to delay and/or cancel a glaucoma appointment during the first months of the pandemic, and 36% said they were just somewhat confident or not confident that their glaucoma was well-managed in those months.
Confidence levels were not associated with patients' age, gender, or geography, but significantly associated with whether they'd had appointments.
Patients who had the lowest levels of confidence about their glaucoma management were 30% more likely to have had an eye appointment delayed and/or canceled than those with higher levels of confidence, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) poll of adult patients in 49 states that was conducted in May.
"Glaucoma patients and their eye care professionals have faced particular challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic closures, given the progressive but indolent nature of a disease that can lead to blindness and the fact that tests required to monitor eye pressure or detect disease progression must be performed in person," GRF President and CEO Thomas Brunner said in a foundation news release.
"We hope the findings from this survey provide valuable perspective to eye care professionals regarding their patients' preferences, concerns and experiences as they are able to reopen their offices and begin advancing glaucoma care," Brunner said.
Glaucoma is a disease wheRE fluid builds up in the eye, with the pressure damaging the optic nerve. Treatment and medications can be determined with regular eye exams.
The survey also found that patients worried most about:
- Vision getting worse/losing vision (13% very worried or extremely worried),
- Not being able to have an appointment with an eye doctor in person (12% very worried or extremely worried),
- Not being able to have a quality appointment with an eye doctor due to social distancing and face masks (12% very worried or extremely worried),
- Not having good control of intraocular pressure (10% very worried or extremely worried).