Raising awareness: Dissemination of information to help patients get ahead of glaucoma

January 23, 2020

Websites about glaucoma abound, and their main goal is to raise awareness to prevent visual loss. Many websites are specific to glaucoma, but a few also provide information about other eye diseases as well and how to maintain overall eye health. This article describes these resources and some of the practical information that can be found within the websites.

Websites about glaucoma abound, and their main goal is to raise awareness to prevent visual loss. Many websites are specific to glaucoma, but a few also provide information about other eye diseases as well and how to maintain overall eye health. This article describes these resources and some of the practical information that can be found within the websites.

Websites about glaucoma abound, and their main goal is to raise awareness to prevent visual loss. Many websites are specific to glaucoma, but a few also provide information about other eye diseases as well and how to maintain overall eye health.

This article touches on some of the myriad resources and practical information that can be found within the respective websites.

American Glaucoma Society

The society emphasizes resources, research, and support, and instructs patients in finding an American Glaucoma Society doctor in their locality as well as providing links to other organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCareAmerica and eyeSmart site; the International Glaucoma Association, the National Eye Institute; the Glaucoma Foundation; the National Consumers League, and the Safe Surgery Coalition.

The American Glaucoma Society also provides educational handouts on angle-closure glaucoma that explain the disease and its mechanism of action, risk factors, a technique for possible prevention, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment as well as numerous other ocular diseases.

Another component of the patient portal is AGS Cares, a new public service program described as “dedicated to providing surgical glaucoma care at no cost to uninsured or underserved patients who qualify for such care. The glaucoma care is provided by members of a national network of volunteers comprising glaucoma surgeons who are AGS active or provisional members.” The AGS Cares patient and physician enrollment and eligibility form is now available.

The website also offers a patient portal with answers to the most frequently asked questions about glaucoma. 

Glaucoma Research Foundation

With January, Glaucoma Awareness Month, upon us, one awareness activity that the Glaucoma Research Foundation advocates includes a four-step proactive approach for families that begins with having family members talk to each other about the disease. “If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know,” the website emphasizes.

The next steps are educational in nature and include referring a friend to www.glaucoma.org, requesting that a free educational booklet, “Understanding And Living With Glaucoma,” be sent, and becoming involved in your community through fundraisers, information sessions, group discussions, and inviting expert speakers, among others.

 

Prevent Blindness

This organization provides patients with a great deal of information about living with glaucoma as well as many sobering facts about the increasing prevalence of the disease.

For example, the organization’s report, “

," states that glaucoma already affects nearly 3 million people aged 40 years and older, and that that number will increase alarmingly by nearly 50% to 4.3 million by 2032 and by more than 90% to 5.5 million by 2050.

Living with the disease can be a daunting prospect, and Prevent Blindness recommends some steps that patient can take to help in their daily activities such as remembering to take notes and write down questions before the doctor visit, explaining to ophthalmologists how the medicines they take affect them and conveying the information about prescribed drugs and their effects and all other drugs to other medical specialists, reading about glaucoma, and measures to take to live with it.

The Prevent Blindness program, “Living Well with Low Vision,” provides information on maintaining patient independence and quality of life. Resources are also available to caregivers through the program. This program also provides an exhaustive list of resources that includes more than 1,600 links and contacts, such as US and international agencies, centers, organizations, and societies; assistive technology products; doctor search; financial assistance; financial assistance for students; suppliers of reading material in large type and Braille, low-vision devices, reading material in audio; top 12 eye hospitals; vision-related websites; and vision tests.

The website, https://www.preventblindness.org/free-information-available-public-glaucoma-awareness-month, can answer many questions for patients.

American Academy of Ophthalmology

The Academy’s page, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma, provides a wealth of information designed to help patients understand the disease with detailed explanations of primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma; prevention tips, articles on glaucoma, answers to questions about glaucoma, patient stories, and the opportunity to ask an ophthalmologist questions about glaucoma. The website is presented in English and Spanish.

Governmental agencies

The National Eye Institute is focused on disseminating educational material on glaucoma such as hand-out articles and fact sheet, infocards and infographics that can be printed and posted in public areas, videos, and webinars.

In addition, information is provided about eye health in general and for glaucoma in particular, the importance of annual dilated eye examinations to detect glaucoma and treatments if the disease is diagnosed.

For more glaucoma information and resources from the NEI, click here.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC website offers numerous facts about glaucoma as well as the risk factors and the populations that are at elevated risk.

It also provides a list of “healthy habits” to help avoid vision loss. These include undergoing a comprehensive dilated eye examination for all, but especially for those in a high-risk group; talking to family members about vision health because of glaucoma’s hereditary component; and practical common-sense guidelines that include maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, being physically active, and avoiding smoking that will not only help prevent glaucoma but other chronic diseases.

Other website topics include managing and treating glaucoma and learning about low vision.

Reaching people at risk is of special interest to the CDC. The organization funds programs to detect glaucoma and other eye diseases among high-risk communities and provide successful follow-up care. The glaucoma initiatives can be accessed on the website, https://www.cdc.gov/features/glaucoma-awareness/index.html.

Other initiatives listed are CDC’s Vision Health Initiative, CDC’s glaucoma projects, Low vision resources for glaucomaexternal icon, and Glaucoma Research Foundationexternal icon.