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Stick with the Program to Preserve Your Vision

"Why should I use glaucoma eye drops if I don’t have any symptoms?"

Glaucoma is a “silent” disease in that you usually will not feel any pain or notice loss of vision in the early stages. Because vision loss from glaucoma starts with your side vision, you may not notice any symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly.

High eye pressure can damage your optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. Once that damage is done it cannot be reversed. If your eye doctor prescribes medication eye drops, it is important to use your drops each day. The eye drops will only be effective if used correctly and regularly.

Follow Your Doctor's Treatment Plan

Following your doctor’s treatment plan is the best way to protect your vision and take control of your eye health. Doctors call this “adherence,” which means “sticking with the program.” It is important to be completely honest with your doctor about whether you have been using your medication. Your doctor uses this information to make treatment decisions — if your doctor knows you haven’t been taking your medication, he or she can work with you to find a solution to the issue.

Reasons for non-adherence can include:

  • Trouble remembering to use your drops every day — try making it part of your daily routine such as after brushing your teeth or before going to bed. Or write yourself a note and post it where you will see it every day.
  • Difficulty getting the drops in your eyes — ask your doctor to demonstrate the proper technique.
  • Forgetting to refill your prescription — make a note on your calendar when you will need your next refill or ask your pharmacy if they have an automatic refill program.
  • Concerns about side effects — all medications have side effects; if you have concerns or are experiencing intolerable side effects, give your doctor the details at your next visit.
  • Unable to afford the cost of your medication — make sure your doctor understands your situation. Several Patient Assistance programs are available to help with medicine costs.

Ask your eye doctor for educational materials so you can be an informed participant in your treatment plan. Early and effective treatment of glaucoma can preserve your vision.

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Article by Anastasios P. Costarides, MD, PhD — the Pamela Humphrey Firman Professor of Ophthalmology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

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