Challenges in the management of glaucoma in a developing country; a qualitative study of providers' perspectives
Background: Glaucoma management is challenging to patients as well as to the eye care providers.The study is aimed at describing the challenges faced by providers using qualitative methods.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with selected Ophthalmologists and resident doctors in ophthalmology at centres offering medical and surgical glaucoma services in Lagos state, Nigeria, according to established qualitative methods. This was done using semi-structured, open ended questions to explore the providers' perspective on glaucoma burden, challenges in the management, surgery for glaucoma, acceptance of glaucoma surgery by patients, and recommendations for improving glaucoma services.The discussions were recorded with the aid of a microcassette recorder. Familiarisation was done to identify key ideas in the data, then, the main themes and sub-themes were identified.Quotes that reflect the themes and sub-themes were then identified in the data.
Results: In-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 11 ophthalmologists and resident doctors in training. Majority were of the opinion that glaucoma is a significant burdenconstituting about 35% of outpatient visits. Identified patient related challenges include;late presentation,lack of glaucoma awareness,delay in referral from optometrists,and poor compliance with medications. Shortages in needed equipment were also identified. Availability, affordability and counterfeiting ofdrugs were the major challenges related to medical treatment. Majority of the participants agreed that surgery should be offered to the patients as soon as the diagnosis of glaucoma is made. However, continuous monitoring of the patient on medical treatment is another line of option for them in early cases; if they are convinced the patients will be compliant.Some respondents considered the current number of glaucoma surgeries as adequate, while somethink otherwise.Reasons put forward for reluctance to offer glaucoma surgery include;late presentation, lack of patient satisfaction,complications of surgery,and negative publicity.
Conclusion: Even though the challenges in the management of glaucoma indeveloping countries are many, they are not insurmountable.There is need for concerted and integrated efforts involving all cadres of eye care practitioners, patients, institutions and governments to address this important eye disease. Improved awareness, provision of adequate equipment,availability and affordability of medications,need for training and retraining of eye care providers are all important measures that can lead to better management of the glaucoma patient.