Many glaucoma patients can’t administer eye drops well

By Tom Nordlie • Published: October 19th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Imagine being sick but unable to swallow the pill that could help you recover.

That’s the situation some glaucoma patients face with prescription eye drops.

Glaucoma is usually caused by a build-up of pressure inside the eyeball. It does irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Left untreated, it can cause blindness.

Daily application of eye drops can reduce pressure and minimize further vision loss.

However, many patients can’t get those drops into their eyes.

A study published recently in the journal Ophthalmology analyzed the problem.

In the study, researchers tested two-hundred adults averaging sixty-nine years old. All were glaucoma patients with significant vision loss and some prior experience using eye drops.

Each participant did a one-time eye drop application that researchers recorded on video and reviewed.

Only forty percent completed the task correctly.

Common errors included missing the eye, using more than one drop and touching the eye with the tip of the dropper.

Many of the patients who made mistakes didn’t realize it, either.

Reasons for the errors included poor vision and movement problems associated with arthritis and other medical conditions common to seniors.

Fortunately, the researchers pointed out some ways to improve things.

One is, ophthalmologists should instruct patients on eye drop application methods.

Another is, patients whose abilities are shaky can have a friend or family member apply the drops.

But it all starts with recognizing the problem.

So if someone you care about has glaucoma, this might be a good time to evaluate their eye drop technique.

If it’s not up to par, maybe a second set of hands would help hit the mark.