Brooke Beery is Associate Editor of Optometry Times®.
Glaucoma reminders for ODs during World Glaucoma Week
Gretchyn Bailey, FAAO, NCLC: Hi, everyone. I am Gretchyn Bailey with Optometry Times®. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Dr. Rob Stutman from Elkridge, Maryland. We are talking about World Glaucoma Week, which is taking place next week, March 7 through 13. Rob, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.
Robert Stutman, OD, MBA, FAAO: Thanks for having me. This is really a lot of fun.
Bailey: Well, tell me about World Glaucoma Week. What is it? How did it come about? What is the importance?
World Glaucoma Week
Stutman: It is a great topic. I am very excited to be here to talk about our World Glaucoma Week, which is a global initiative that was put together by the World Glaucoma Association to raise awareness about glaucoma on a global scale. As we all know, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. And we all know also that there are really no symptoms to the patient until it is in the very end stages where damage is irreversible.
So, it is such an important initiative to raise awareness so people can get into the eye doctors, bring their family, friends into the eye doctor and get checked out. Early intervention is the key to managing glaucoma in any setting. That is why it is so important and so near and dear to us as we see glaucoma patients every single day.
Bailey: Absolutely. So, what are you doing in your practice to raise awareness of World Glaucoma Week and to mark the occasion?
Stutman: Well, I am in a medical, surgical, referral-based practice. So, we work with a lot of outside optometrists. We see glaucoma patients every day, and we will have signage and literature in the office to make sure that the patients who we are seeing get the word out to their friends and family who may not be seeing an eye doctor as often as they should. Or at least to get in and have their eyes checked. We will also be making sure that our referring doctors, our colleagues, are aware of the the event and hopefully marking it as well.
Bailey: Have you noticed in years past after World Glaucoma Week that you are seeing more patients coming in with questions—meaning has raising awareness worked in getting patients to think about the importance of glaucoma and seeing a doctor for an exam?
Stutman: That is a good question. You know, I would have to think about that for a second. Again, I am in a referral-based practice. So, most of the new patients we are seeing are our early or questionable glaucoma patients, but we consider glaucoma suspects, some are at low risk, some of them are at high risk. We are seeing more and more patients in the office who are coming in.
Stutman: Also, the advances in diagnostic technology have really increased awareness, too, I think, because it is so easy to take a picture with an optical coherence topographer (OCT) or other kind of scan to identify these patients and get them plugged into the system so that we are watching them again. Seeing them earlier on is better for everybody.
Bailey: Well, you raise a good point with advances in technology and diagnostics. We have a lot of advances in treatments, as well. What should ODs be keeping in mind in terms of what is new for either diagnostics or treatment therapies as they see patients through World Glaucoma Week?
Stutman: Oh, I love this question. Because I am so passionate about optometrists taking their place as a primary care provider, eye provider, and taking control of glaucoma patients. This is an optometric disease, and optometrists are perfectly poised to see the patients early on, detect, and get patients plugged into early treatment. Also, to work with our ophthalmology colleagues to surgically comanage these patients. We are living in a time when this is not your grandmother's disease, right? I remember my grandmother when I was a kid would set her Timex watch 4 times a day so she could take her pilocarpine.
Stutman: So, when you think about what we have available to us, just the breadth of topical medications and how advanced they are. Not only topical medications, but every year we have more and more alternative delivery devices to deliver medications to patients without having to use eyedrops. We have lasers that are available. We have minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) procedures that have changed the way we treat glaucoma patients in combination with cataract surgery or as a standalone procedure. For instance, we have Glaukos's iStent inject, we have Sight Science’s Omni procedure, we have New World Medical’s Kahook Dual Blade, Ivantis’s Hydrus. The list goes on and on and gets longer every year. All of these things are our options for patients to keep control of their pressure over the long haul, keeping them seeing as well as they possibly can for the duration of their lifetime.
Bailey: If you had one piece of advice to offer to your fellow ODs, besides diagnose them early and keep that up, because I know you would say that, what other piece of advice would you offer your fellow ODs about treating glaucoma patients?
Stutman: Take control, get involved. Getting involved early is answering your question in a roundabout way, but take control. We are the ones who are taking the bull by the horns here. We are making sure patients are educated, patients are watched over the course of their lifetime, whether they are being treated or not. it is incumbent on us to keep track of this. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and things change over time.
So, taking control of the follow-up visits and also taking control of any coordinating. Coordinating care with our ophthalmology colleagues when it is time for patients to be facing cataract surgery or other treatments that we might not be able to perform ourselves. Coordinate the care. Make sure you take the control back, see them postoperatively. We like to leave our surgeons doing surgery. That is where they are their most comfortable and most efficient, and we can take care of the patient as a whole.
Bailey: Very good advice. Rob, thank you very much for talking with me today about World Glaucoma Week.
Stutman: Oh, thanks. I loved it. I appreciate your invitation.