Leading Medical Specialists Support Self-Monitoring of Eye Pressure by Glaucoma Patients;
Home Monitoring has Potential to Transform Glaucoma Treatment, Says Co-Author of Recent Journal Article
Growing recognition among leading ophthalmologists and glaucoma specialists of an alternative option for measuring pressure in the eye may offer new hope for four million Americans – and millions more people worldwide – who risk permanent blindness, says a co-author of a recent article in the Survey of Ophthalmology.
Elevated pressure within the eye is the largest risk factor for developing glaucoma and partial or complete loss of vision, but is typically measured only once every few months in a doctor’s office, says the author of Self-tonometry in Glaucoma Management—Past, Present and Future. Only a relatively small proportion of glaucoma patients now measure their own eye pressure, which constantly varies throughout the day. For these patients, practicing home monitoring (also called self-tonometry) profoundly enhanced their ability to partner with their doctors to manage their condition.
“Home monitoring creates a robust set of eye pressure data that allows glaucoma patients and their doctors to make better decisions about medication and surgery than they otherwise would be able,” he says. “By better understanding the factors, including stress, that affect eye pressure through the course of the day, patients are also empowered to make appropriate lifestyle choices.”
Prominent ophthalmologists and glaucoma specialists from Australia, Hong Kong, Africa, India and the United States convened in July at the World Glaucoma Congress in a meeting organized by FitEyes.com to discuss the benefits of self-tonometry and to hear directly from patients with experience doing home monitoring. The event was also attended by representatives of a leading tonometer manufacturer. (A tonometer is a device that measures the pressure in the eye.)
Dr. Robert Ritch, a leading glaucoma expert, says: “Self-monitoring is a core tenet of management of numerous medical conditions. For instance, most physicians treating diabetes want to know details of how a patient's blood sugar responds to diet and activities throughout the normal course of daily life.”
“Self-tonometry, once the patient is familiar with the equipment needed, is easy and accurate. Previously, the high cost of the equipment and lack of awareness among both patients and medical professionals have been barriers to a more widespread adoption of this technique,” Dr. Ritch says.
Dr. Ritch continues, “If opened to more patients, self-tonometry could not only help current patients, but also provide important data on eye pressure that could be used in research, possibly leading to updated treatments and preventions.”
As part of an effort to expand home monitoring of eye pressure by glaucoma patients, FitEyes.com will:
- Educate eye care professionals and patients on the benefits of home monitoring of eye pressure.
- Help glaucoma patients find the right tonometer and learn how to use it to accurately observe their own eye pressure.
- Design and administer self-tonometry-based research studies.
- Provide assistance and support groups over the phone and Internet for patients practicing home monitoring.
- Perform statistical analysis and other proprietary eye pressure data analysis for ophthalmologists to find patterns in the eye-pressure data of patients under their care in order to help them better manage their patient's condition. The analysis will be based on the eye pressure data collected by the patient using self-tonometry.
- Encourage and conduct formal research studies using robust self-tonometry data.
- Support the development by manufacturers of lower-cost tonometers designed for patient-use.
One glaucoma patient says, “I have taken many thousands of self-tonometry measurements, so I know first-hand how simple and helpful it can be. Without the objective data obtained via home monitoring, I felt like my doctors and I were in the dark. In a very real sense, self-tonometry can be enlightening.”
Dr. Ritch also wants to make everyone aware that FitEyes.com is an excellent resource for self-monitoring of eye pressure. Dr. Ritch says, "David Shields, founder of FitEyes.com, has become one of the world's leading experts on self-tonometry."