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    Helping patients better understand glaucoma

    Holding Q&A sessions assists ODs in educating patients about the disease


    Research assists patient education

    While the cross-sectional study is small, it brings to light a few significant points: Patients have questions about their eye diseases and are eager for those questions to be answered. They also want their questions to be answered by their doctors.

    It can be implied that if ODs don’t seek out questions from our patients, then patients may not ask us—turning elsewhere for the answers.

    Countless amounts of information concerning glaucoma is available on the Internet. However, it can be difficult for patients to sort through everything that is not peer-reviewed, overtly biased, or just factually inaccurate in order to come up with tangible information based on empirical evidence.

    This goes hand in hand with the ethical obligations ODs have to inform patients and to keep them current with diagnostic and therapeutic approaches as they evolve—and they will only continue to evolve.

    Related: Is glaucoma a neurological disease?

    Tips to keep the conversation going

    While it isn’t feasible or considerate to others to sit with every patient and talk about glaucoma for 30 minutes, you may be able to incorporate a short session or two every quarter or so. This can help open the conversation in an organized fashion of what concerns patients and their families have.

    It is relatively simple to get lulled into thinking that all questions have been answered after a glaucoma visit. Just because all of the OD’s questions have been answered (i.e., has the visual field or OCT study shown progression; are we at target IOP; do medications need to be refilled), doesn’t mean all of the patients’ questions have been answered.

    Patients are significantly concerned with losing vision with respect to losing other senses.2 Arming our patients with the correct information and allowing them to ask questions in a comfortable manner may help ensure ensuring that we share the correct and common goals for attaining the best quality outcomes.3


    1. Sleath B, Davis S, Sayner R, Carpenter DM, Johnson T, Blalock SJ, Robin AL. African American Patient Preferences for Glaucoma Education. Optom Vis Sci. 2017 Apr;94(4):482-486.

    2. Scott AW, Bressler NM, Ffolkes S, Wittenborn JS, Jorkasky J. Public Attitudes About Eye and Vision Health. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016 Oct 1;134(10):1111-1118.

    3. Giridhar P, Dandona R, Prasad MN, Kovai V, Dandona L. Fear of blindness and perceptions about blind people. The Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2002 Sep;50(3):239-46.

    Read more from Dr. Casella here

    Benjamin P. Casella, OD, FAAO
    Dr. Casella, a 2007 graduate of University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, practices in Augusta, GA, with his father in ...


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