Glaucoma NZ CEO Pippa Martin explains what happens after patients are referred to the patient support body. 

Although it is more common for Glaucoma NZ to receive patient referrals from ophthalmologists once a glaucoma diagnosis is confirmed, it is much more valuable for patients who are glaucoma suspects to be made aware of Glaucoma NZ prior to their appointment with their specialist.

Patients referred to an ophthalmologist for their initial glaucoma assessment may have pre-formed ideas on the implications of having glaucoma and consequently have anxiety levels that may pose a barrier to their adjustment to the disease. Also, an understanding by the ophthalmologist of the level of knowledge in their glaucoma patients both established, and on first presentation, will facilitate optimal care by allowing the limited consultation time to be focused on emphasizing the important aspects of glaucoma knowledge and dispelling misconceptions.

Here are three ways that patients are supported by Glaucoma NZ:

  1. Education

GNZ offers patient-centric glaucoma services for glaucoma patients and their carers, to live positively with their disease, by providing free access to glaucoma knowledge and support as and when they need it.

To do this we rely on our extensive network of glaucoma specialists and optometrists to assist us to disseminate glaucoma education for patients and health professionals. We facilitate education events and patient support groups to share knowledge, to allow patients to feel and stay connected with glaucoma developments and support.

Ophthalmologists and optometrists demonstrate the value they place on our service and the importance of glaucoma education by regularly speaking at our patient and professional symposiums about glaucoma management, the latest treatments, or advice to live well with glaucoma. Patients tell us that they are able to ask questions and hear full explanations that they otherwise would not have time for in their appointments. They report that by having a greater understanding of their disease and the treatments available, they are more likely to; comply with their treatment, feel more confident and in control to make informed choices, and feel less anxious overall.

  1. Support

Alongside our education forums, including the website, symposiums, digital communications & newsletters, Glaucoma NZ is dedicated to enhancing the patient experience and pathway by offering a level of personal support when patients contact us through our 0800 helpline, email, or website.

We are mindful that the pandemic has increased isolation for all of us and has particularly impacted our elderly patients who may have questions or concerns outside their appointment times. Glaucoma NZ can call on glaucoma specialists and optometrists to assist with unidentified questions appropriately, and quickly, allowing us to feed back to the patient directly or include this as a topic of interest in our communication channels to benefit all glaucoma patients.

  1. Connection

Our local support groups offer a further opportunity for glaucoma patients and their carers to connect with their peers, share stories, build new friendships, and provide a sense of community. One member mentioned they “feel less alone in this now” in the recent feedback report from our Christchurch group.

Monthly meetings are facilitated by a volunteer eye care provider or patient/carer who will lead group lead discussions or organise relevant speakers to address the group on a range of topics to support them to live well with their disease. The groups are a mix of newly diagnosed and established patients/carers who offer each other support through shared experiences. Although COVID has disrupted attendance levels, the leaders have been phoning members to check in with those who can’t attend, or facilitating support groups via zoom.

All referred patients receive a phone call to welcome them to Glaucoma NZ & invite them to utilise our services. If they are without digital connection, they are sent a welcome pack which includes a series of helpful brochures. How to insert eye drops, eye drop aids we offer, Your Eyes – a brochure about glaucoma and a letter listing other fact sheets and resources available.

If you have any questions about Glaucoma NZ or wish to refer a patient to us, visit