World Glaucoma Week is 10 – 16 March 2024 and Sydney Eye Hospital is getting behind the global initiative by publicly launching an innovative tool on 1 February to help patients stick to their treatment regime.
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Dr Ridia Lim, Head of Glaucoma Unit at Sydney Eye Hospital
World Glaucoma Week is a global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) that puts a spotlight on glaucoma as the leading cause of preventable irreversible blindness worldwide.
Dr Ridia Lim, Head of Glaucoma Unit at Sydney Eye Hospital, explains how prompt diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma can prevent needless vision impairment.
“Glaucoma usually gives no warning until it is advanced, but the damage it causes to vision is ongoing and could become irreversible,” says Dr Lim.
“The good news, for many patients, is treatment can halt the damage. The earlier the diagnosis, the more sight there is to save and the less likely the person will become blind,” she says.
Patients have the benefit of receiving state-of-the-art care while at Sydney Eye Hospital, but when they go home, their treatment is in their own hands. Those who diligently follow the doctor’s instructions tend to have better outcomes than those who can’t stay on top of their medication.
“This is not a dilemma unique to patients of Sydney Eye Hospital. An international research study estimated that between 23% - 60% of glaucoma patients don’t use their eye drops or don’t apply them effectively,” says Dr Lim.
“For the treatment to work, it is important that the eye drops prescribed are used exactly as directed. That includes timing, dosing and not missing eye drops. Long term, for glaucoma patients, taking the drops properly is important in maintaining vision and quality of life,” she says.
Enter the Sydney Eye Drop Project, a new initiative funded through generous community gifts to the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.
The Project includes two core initiatives to help patients, the Sydney Eye Drop Chart, and the Sydney Eye Drop App. It’s all about collaborative care, with patients gaining greater understanding about the importance of correctly administering medicines at home says Dr Andrew Chang, Head of Ophthalmology at Sydney Eye Hospital.
“The Sydney Eye Drop Chart is a simple visual aid that every patient receives at the end of a consultation or at the end of their hospital stay,” he says. “Their treatment program is mapped out on the chart with bold graphics to make clear the dosage and frequency of each medication prescribed.”
“The Sydney Eye Drop App is a vision-friendly application developed in multiple languages for smart devices (think mobile phones and tablets). User-friendly functions such as how-to graphics, videos, calendars, and alarms will help patients stick to their ophthalmic eye medication,” says Dr Chang.
Dr Duri Kim initiated the Sydney Eye Drop Project at Sydney Eye Hospital
Before launching this new initiative the project was piloted to gain vital feedback to ensure once officially launched, the resources would be of genuine help to patients.
“The main thing we wanted to ensure was that the Sydney Eye Drop Chart and App would guide our patients in their eye journey in a clear and simple to understand way,” says Dr Chang.
“The pilot study gave excellent feedback showing 98-100% of glaucoma patients found it easy to use the dedicated ophthalmic medication charts and the smartphone application,” he says.
Patients and carers also resonated the need for clear written communication and appreciated the simple reminder system which will now be included in eyecare at Sydney Eye Hospital.
Valuable feedback highlighted the need for multilingual resources and more advanced accessibility, which the team has been working on as part of the go-live-launch for Glaucoma Week.
Linda Fagan, Chief Executive of Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation, said the Foundation was thrilled to have been able to fund the Sydney Eye Drop Program.
“I’m immensely proud that our donors have made it possible for more people with glaucoma to be successfully treated,” she says.
“This vital education about prescribed eye drop therapies is a fitting start to World Glaucoma Week activations. The message is clear, successful treatment plays a key role in the elimination of glaucoma blindness,” says Linda.
“It’s important to note that these resources are not only a game changer for glaucoma patients, but the next step is to expand the Eye Drop Chart to all subspecialties in outpatient and in-patients,” says Linda.