Glaucoma Australia helping glaucoma patients make informed lifestyle choices

By Annie Gibbins, CEO Glaucoma Australia

Glaucoma Australia’s offers education and support to patients throughout their journey with glaucoma. With medical information so readily available online, it is very easy for patients to be misinformed about their glaucoma diagnosis, adding to anxiety and sometimes lack of confidence in advise from their healthcare professionals.

When optometrists refer their patients to Glaucoma Australia, they are given the opportunity to be supported by trained educators to ensure they receive the most appropriate and correct information tailored to specific stages of the glaucoma journey and their corresponding needs. Glaucoma Australia’s patient intervention has proven to also reduce anxiety and in turn help patients make informed lifestyle choices to improve their quality of life.

Apart from being referred to Glaucoma Australia by their optometrist, patients can join the Glaucoma Australia community via our website, free phone call to the support line, by joining the Glaucoma Australia Support Groups on Facebook and now via the web-chat available 24hours on the Glaucoma Australia website.

Nearly 30% of patients felt their knowledge of glaucoma was below average at the time of joining Glaucoma Australia’s Patient Support Journey. During an annual survey, for those who had received ongoing support from patient educators, this figure had gone to less than 1%!

33% of glaucoma patients were frequently or always anxious about their glaucoma at the time of joining. After receiving a year of support by the team, only 15% of them had frequent anxiety related to their glaucoma.

Feedback from Glaucoma Australia educators found that apart from questions about loss of vision and treatment, a common trend was anxiety and uncertainty over everyday lifestyle choices that could have a negative impact on their glaucoma.

Surprisingly, nearly 46% of patients were unware of the type of glaucoma they had, further adding to confusion related to advice for Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma with the more common Primary Open Angle Glaucoma. Careful problem solving from ocular and treatment history allow our educators to pass on the appropriate information to the patients.

Trending lifestyle related questions impacting glaucoma were caffeine consumption, impact of exercise on glaucoma (particularly yoga), and use of over the counter medications such as anti-histamines. Safety related to driving with glaucoma, cost of ongoing eye health and helping with decisions about proposed laser and surgical interventions along with healthy diet and vitamins beneficial to glaucoma are also common concerns for Australians impacted by glaucoma.

During these educational and support communications, educators took the opportunity to inform patients that direct family members are 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma in their lifetime. During follow up calls, 100% of patients supported by Glaucoma Australia had informed their family member to get tested to ensure they get detected and treated early.

Referring your patients to Glaucoma Australia will allow them access to information which will save their sight and reduce their anxiety. Patients who have access to our Support Journey have shown to have 92% adherence rate to attending their appointments. Education and support from Glaucoma Australia also helps increase patients confidence in their eye care professionals as well as helping our patients make informed lifestyle choices to improve their quality of life while being in control of their glaucoma.