The Problem: Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a chronic, non-curable disease, also called the “silent thief” of sight as the patients are asymptomatic for a long time. It typically affects elderly people and people with a family history, but it is also observed that more and more young patients are developing the disease due to other life style diseases like diabetes or arterial hypertension.
In glaucoma, elevated intraocular pressure or dynamic pressure fluctuations are causing damage to the optic nerve. Progression of the disease leads to loss of vision over time and eventually to blindness of the patient, if not treated properly. Unfortunately it is not possible to restore a damaged optic nerve and by this vision of a patients. Therefore the primary goal of any therapy, either by medication or by surgical interventions is to reduce or control the intraocular pressure.
But reduction and control of intraocular pressure is challenged by severe limitations of current state of the art intraocular pressure measurement methods:
Current methods only permit measurement of intraocular pressure as the procedure has to be performed at the eye doctors’ office by specialists. This results in quite infrequent measurements, far less than necessary for an adequate patient monitoring and patient care.
Patients’ self-measurements and measurements under normal life conditions are not possible today. This results very often in low therapy adherence of many patients, which is followed by further and unnecessary progression of the disease.
Crucial information about the highly dynamic eye pressure and its fluctuations and variability in between office visits and over the course of a day is not obtainable; therefore results of a chosen therapy can’t be controlled in a timely fashion, therapy adjustment is in many cases significantly delayed. That is why a chosen therapy often fails and a patient has to accept further progression of vision loss.
Due to aging populations we will see a dramatic increase of glaucoma patients in the coming years, which will make the current problems in disease management and costs related to patient care for health systems all over the world even tenser. The increasing number of patients will meet a limited availability of eye doctors in many part of the world, which presents another obstacle for good disease management and patient care. Therefore it is due time to overcome the current limitations in glaucoma treatment with advanced technologies for better disease management an patient care at affordable cost.