Ophthalmologists can help patients relieve psychological burden of glaucoma
HYDERABAD, India — Glaucoma patients need and deserve the support of their ophthalmologists, who can help them form a realistic but positive attitude toward their condition.
Henry Edwards, MD, addressed the audience at the joint meeting of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and All India Ophthalmological Society in the double role of psychiatrist and glaucoma patient, now at an advanced stage.
“The eye orients us to the world, to negotiate the world, gives us a sense of control and is a very important channel of communication in all our relationships. Losing vision is losing a piece of ourselves,” he said.
Initially, patients may be in denial and minimize their condition, helped by the slow progress of glaucoma. When patients accept the diagnosis, anxiety in the form of fear, anger and guilt is possible. The patient has to cope with a lot of emotional stress and the uncertainty of what the future might hold.
“Anxiety, distress and depression are measurable sometimes by the discrepancy between objective measurements and subjective symptoms,” Edwards said.
However, patients have something “larger than themselves” to believe in. “It may be a god or a worldly god, like the ophthalmologist. Someone who gives them some hope, a sense of security, who says ‘I am going to be with you while you go through this’ is very important to make them feel grounded,” he said.
Not a lot of extra time is needed, but listening, observing and being aware of the patient’s emotional status during routine care can make the difference.
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