Getting the Most Out of Your Treatment
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I know it's important to understand my glaucoma diagnosis and my treatment regimen. What questions should I be prepared to ask my doctor to ensure that I'm getting the most out of my treatment?
Although your doctor may be busy, he or she wants to provide you with the best possible care. Working with your doctor means voicing your concerns, asking questions to better understand your diagnosis and treatment, and keeping your doctor informed of any changes in your health.
There are several types of glaucoma, and your treatment may depend on your specific diagnosis, so it is important to ask what type of glaucoma you have. Once you know, you should ask your doctor which treatment option or options are the most appropriate for you.
Issues with Medications
If your doctor prescribes a glaucoma medication, he or she may also have tips on how to make sure you take your treatment as prescribed, so be sure to ask. If necessary, ask the doctor or technician to write directions down for you.
You should also ask about potential interactions with other medications or dietary supplements you are taking, possible side effects, and what would happen if you were to go without treatment.
Other questions to ask:
- How will I know if my treatment is working?
- How long will the treatment last?
- How often will I need checkups?
Be sure to tell your doctor any issues you may be having with your medication. Many patients have difficulty getting the medication in their eye or remembering to take their eye drops. Patients who have very limited incomes can benefit from patient assistance plans as well — if cost is a problem in getting your medication, tell your doctor.
If you are not taking the drops regularly, it is very important to inform your doctor - he or she can discuss other treatment options or help you solve the problems that get in the way of you taking your eye drops daily. It is also extremely important to keep your scheduled follow-up appointments and not get off track.
Friends and Family
To help you make sure you get the information you need and that you understand your treatment regimen, you may want to ask a friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment to remember the doctor's directions or help take notes. It helps to keep writing things down when you get home, too. Take note of any side effects or drug interactions, and write down questions you want to ask at your next appointment.
Preparing in advance for your office visit can help you to feel more comfortable and avoid feelings of confusion when you leave the doctor's office. Even if you have been managing your glaucoma for a while and following the regimen your doctor has prescribed, it's important to continue talking with your doctor about any questions you have about your treatment so you can get the most out of your therapy.
Article by Gail F. Schwartz, MD, a glaucoma specialist in private practice at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD. She is an Assistant Professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute and the University of Maryland, is active in research and teaching, and is the author of many articles on varying aspects of glaucoma therapy.
Last reviewed on December 21, 2011