Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness in more than 70 million people. In the United States, certain groups are at the highest risk of developing the disease, particularly Black American and Latino individuals who are older than 40 years.
Although there are several different methods for treating glaucoma, the majority of patients take prescription eye drops one or more times daily to lower eye pressure and prevent damage to the optic nerve. Unfortunately, adherence with eye drops is poor with patients overestimating their own use compared with instructions from their eye doctor. Many factors are thought to complete to an individual’s poor adherence to their prescribed regimen including the lack of symptoms, lack of understanding of the disease process, and the need for lifelong treatment and cost.
SEI faculty Robert N. Weinreb, MD and Todd Coleman, PhD (Professor of Bioengineering and Ophthalmology) believe that health information technology offers a solution for reducing disparities
and have proposed a ground-breaking new study called iGLAMOUR (innovations in Glaucoma Adherence and Monitoring of Under Represented minorities) utilizing a flexible electronic eyedrop sensor to generate data on patients’ adherence to taking eye drops.
This sensor transmits to a patient’s cell phone with the ability to track treatment. Moreover, it will let them and their doctor how they are doing and remind them to use their eye drops as directed. In addition, this information will be accessible through their electronic medical record. An early donation from the Moxie Foundation offered collaboration opportunities with the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering in creating this unique patented device.
The UC San Diego multidisciplinary team working with Drs. Weinreb and Coleman include Sally Baxter, MD, MSc, Camille Nebeker, EdD, MS (Department of Family Medicine and Public Health), Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD (Chair, Health Department of Biomedical Informatics) and James Proudfoot, MS.
Glaucoma represents an ideal application for the use of health Information Technology to reduce racial disparities. Success of this innovative culturally tailored study will improve medication adherence and slow disease progression among minorities. Moreover, it is hoped that it will narrow racial health disparities with respect to medication adherence and improving patient outcomes in glaucoma.
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