Patients with glaucoma-related disability may not be able to drive, read, recognize friends and family or even get around the house on their own. The impact these issues, and a variety of other limits, have on the patient is quite serious, according to a newly compiled literature review published in the Journal of Glaucoma. The researchers, based out of Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, add that other measures, such as a patient’s finances and psychological health, contribute to the patient’s over all quality of life.

The team searched six months worth of information from MEDLINE, EMBASE and SCOPUS databases and punched the numbers on a number of questionnaires stored within. They were able to uncover that—using the results from domain-specific questionnaires—fear of falling is common among patients with glaucoma-related disabilities, many of whom experience balance issues and, as a result, often walk more slowly. They also said that these patients demonstrate significant delays in movement onset and overall movement time when performing reach-and-grab tasks. As a result, patients travel less. Even merely venturing outside the home can be a challenge for these patients, who are four times less likely to leave the house on any given day than patients without vision loss, the study says. These patients suffer 10 to 12 times the depression rates of other patients and that depression can even be transferred, so to speak, to any caretakers, who themselves suffer what the author’s call a “substantial burden.”

The financial blow glaucoma can deliver was also parsed in the piece. In particular, it pointed to one study that found that developing vision loss associated with glaucoma can increase one’s medical bills four-fold.

“While no single questionnaire or test can fully capture disability resulting from glaucoma, together these tools demonstrate that glaucoma affects many abilities which are important for independent living,” the authors conclude. 

Sotimehin A, Ramulu P. Measuring disability in glaucoma. J Glaucoma. October 15, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].