Magazine article USA TODAY

Eye Drop Difficulties Can Cause Blindness

Magazine article USA TODAY

Eye Drop Difficulties Can Cause Blindness

Article excerpt

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S. When the disease is treated in its early stages, vision loss can be prevented. Yet, studies show that more than half of glaucoma patients do not adhere to their prescribed treatment plans due to factors that include difficulty in applying eye drops, lack of medication education, and forgetfulness. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, San Francisco, Calif., is providing patients six tips to help them overcome medication challenges:

Be honest with your ophthalmologist about your medication difficulties. If you missed a dose, it may not seem to matter much, but research shows that skipping doses can cause your glaucoma to become more severe. Be candid about any problems you face in taking your medicine regularly, and ask about the best way to make up for a missed dose. The more you tell your doctor, the better he or she can help find ways to customize your treatment plan to make it more manageable for your lifestyle.

Ask for help from health professionals and loved ones. It can be difficult to keep track of which meds to take and when. Talk with your ophthalmologist or pharmacist about your medications and their impact and possible side effects. Also, use the buddy system and tell your friends, family, and caregivers about your condition and treatments. Consider taking a loved one or caregiver with you to your ophthalmology appointments. That person can help you follow your treatment plan when you are at home. They also may be able to help you apply your eye drops.

Use memory aids. The most common reason for not taking eye drops is forgetfulness. Try simple memory aids like linking your eye drop schedule to other things you do routinely. For example, put your eye drop bottle next to your toothbrush or your pill box if you take other medications. Try using physical reminders such as marking off a calendar when you use your drops, or moving your eye drop bottle from one place to another after you have applied the drops. …

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