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2. Decreasing the impact of glaucoma’s vision damage on the quality of life of those affected

Drs. Ramulu, Boland, and Jampel

The GCE’s common goal is to increase the quality of life of glaucoma patients at Wilmer and beyond. To that end, we have an active research program into how glaucoma impacts activities of daily living, such as reading, driving, and mobility. The outcomes will be recommendations about how to live more safely, especially avoiding falls and motor vehicle accidents. We collaborate with visual rehabilitation specialists to develop methods for better reading and walking in patients with advanced glaucoma. This research uses existing GCE patients, as well as population-based databases.

Initial collaborations with Wilmer Dana Center epidemiologists have shown that patients with early glaucoma are more likely to stop driving, that patients with moderately severe glaucoma walk more slowly and more often bump into objects, and that patients with advanced glaucoma read for shorter periods of time. Ongoing investigations study travel outside the home, measure physical activity, and have developed new tests to evaluate the ability to read books.

Based on present research results and anticipating findings in these areas, we propose to develop patient education materials to be used in our new patient care approach (priority area 6). This will raise awareness for both physicians and patients of quality of life issues and take important steps towards avoiding driving and walking-related injuries. The program will have costs for development of the teaching materials and for a nurse—counselor to work full time testing the methods objectively ($50,000 per year).

The GCE project will determine which visual rehabilitation approaches most effectively enable our patients to complete their life goals. Amazingly, not a single study has focused on rehabilitation efforts to decrease disability among glaucoma patients. We seek funding of $100,000 to support such research initiatives, to formalize protocols for rehabilitating glaucoma patients and to evaluate their outcomes in collaboration with the Wilmer Lions Vision Center as well as geriatric specialists at Bayview.

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