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Kelly Ma, Manishi Desai; Glaucoma Awareness of Primary Care Providers. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):4268.
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Glaucoma is the second cause of legal blindness in the United States and the leading cause of legal blindness in African-Americans.1 Given the asymptomatic nature of the disease, over half of these patients present late to the ophthalmologist with already significant and irreversible vision loss.2 Primary care providers are often the gateway in connecting patients to ophthalmologists. Thus, the purpose of this study is to assess primary care provider ability to recognize disease risk factors, presentation, and clinical course.
Attending and resident primary care physicians were surveyed at Boston Medical Center using a web-based survey that included eight basic questions assessing their knowledge of the screening and management of patients with glaucoma.
28 primary care physicians completed the survey, 13 of which are attending physicians and 15 resident physicians. The two groups performed comparably, with attending physicians scoring 50.5% correctly, and resident physicians scoring 54.3% correctly. Nearly all physicians surveyed correctly identified known risk factors of glaucoma and understood chronic and progressive nature of disease; few were versed in treatment options and systemic side effects of glaucoma medications. Of note, 96% of the physicians sampled believe they do not have adequate knowledge of glaucoma to recognize patients at risk and to appropriately counsel patients.
Our results indicate a possible lack of understanding of basic glaucoma concepts in primary care physicians. It becomes therefore clear that improved education and awareness may aid in more effective screening and timely referral of patients with glaucomatous disease. References: 1. Weston BC, Aliabadi Z, White GL. Glaucoma—review for the vigilant clinician. Clinician Reviews. 2000;10:59-74. 2. American Academy of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma Panel. Primary open-angle glaucoma. Preferred practice pattern. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2000:1-36.
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