The prevalence of cognitive impairment in older patients with glaucoma could affect their ability to follow directions and adhere to a treatment plan, according to a study.
“It is imperative that physicians and caregivers are aware of the prevalence of such conditions, as they are among the first to interact with such individuals,” the study authors wrote. “Given the high prevalence of cognitive impairment and depressive symptoms, future research should examine the impact of such factors on glaucoma treatment adherence.”
The prospective study analyzed 41 glaucoma patients with a mean age of 70 years. Subjects completed standard measures of memory, ability to initiate a new cognitive activity, geriatric depression and geriatric anxiety.
Based on comparisons with healthy adults of similar age and education, cognitive impairment on at least one of the tests was noted in 19 patients. Mild to moderate depressive symptoms were found in five patients, and one patient had a clinically significant anxiety score.
“A paramount challenge in the treatment of glaucoma is that patients often do not adhere to their medication regimens, perhaps leading to preventable vision loss,” the study authors said. “These results suggest that the greatest impediment to medication adherence in some patients may be memory impairment. It is important to increase awareness among physicians and family caregivers that memory problems are common and likely interfere with treatment adherence.”