Home Monitoring of Glaucoma May Be Enabled by New Technology Approach (“Eyecatcher”)

Glaucoma is a chronic condition that affects cells at the back of the eye. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, and is responsible for 1 in 10 cases of serious sight impairment in the UK. People with glaucoma, or at risk of developing glaucoma, require lifelong monitoring, including regular eye tests to track the progression of the disease. Currently, these examinations require regular hospital visits (e.g., twice yearly, for life) and require the use of expensive, specialist equipment. Aging populations make this hospital-only model of patient-management unsustainable, and many clinics are already overstretched, with appointments routinely delayed or cancelled. In the UK today, around 20 people a month are going blind as a result of this appointment backlog. This situation has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, because the inability to sanitize equipment between use has led to all routine sight assessments being suspended in the UK. The long-term effects of this are unknown, but experts suggest that further increases in appointment delays and avoidable blindness appear inevitable. Even if routine assessments are ever fully resumed, it is also thought that the current system of annual hospital visits is insufficient to track the most aggressive forms of glaucoma. Multiple studies have already suggested that more frequent (e.g., monthly) glaucoma eye tests could substantially improve clinical outcomes: allowing high-risk patients to be treated sooner and more appropriately. A new study from City, University of London adds to a body of evidence suggesting that the solution to all these problems may lie in home-monitoring. The study was published online on August 31, 2020 in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
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