Helping people understand glaucoma with a mobile app
Researchers from City, University London, supported by Allergan Pharmaceuticals and Glaucoma UK, have today released the latest edition of an app to help people newly diagnosed with glaucoma.
The launch coincides with World Glaucoma Week (7-13 March 2021), a global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) to raise awareness of the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness.
Glaucoma describes a group of chronic conditions that result in progressive damage to the optic nerve which connects the retina of the eye to the brain, causing people to gradually lose vision.
Early vision loss from glaucoma can go undetected, and irreversible sight loss may only become apparent when a person’s compensatory perceptive mechanisms unravel. In some cases, glaucoma leads to visual impairment and blindness, with the condition responsible for 1 in 10 cases of serious sight impairment in the UK.
It is estimated that more than 700,000 people in the UK and around 78 million worldwide have glaucoma, half of whom are unaware they have the condition. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of people in the UK living with glaucoma is expected to increase by 44 per cent to in excess of 1 million.
The Glaucoma in Perspective app provides glaucoma education in a simple, visual, jargon-free, easy to use format, which helps patients and their families better understand the potential impact of the condition on their lives. It covers topics such as how a visual field test works, why eye pressure is important, as well as the correct use of eyedrops to reduce the risk of the condition progressing, and the consequent vision loss.
One of the main features of the app is a series of interactive demonstrations that highlight the subtle sight loss that can occur with glaucoma, especially in the early stages of the disease. The app technology allows the user to experience the impact of glaucoma on everyday situations such as driving, cooking, walking down the stairs or shopping. Users are also provided with up-to-date information about their condition and the treatments available via a series of novel animations.
The app is available for free on iTunes (IOS) and Google Play (Android). This latest edition has been further optimised for usability and targeted for use on mobile phone and tablet devices, with increased font size for text and an improved interface to make the app easier to navigate.
The development of the app has been supported by Glaucoma UK, the charity for people with glaucoma, to ensure it is accessible to a wide audience. The app includes information about Glaucoma UK and the many ways the charity can support people with glaucoma and their loved ones.
Led by Professor David Crabb, the development team based the interactive app on findings from their research into patients’ perception of sight loss with glaucoma.
App user, Carol, shared her thoughts on the app:
“I love the App and found it extremely useful on all levels.
After 30 years with glaucoma, there were still things on the App I didn’t know! Meanwhile, it’s wonderful to be able to share the App with family and friends, so they understand more about glaucoma—it can be a lonely place without that support. The graphics and interactive elements take some of the sting out of having to deal with the disease alone. For long sufferers, as well as people suddenly discovering they have this condition can be a real blow. Having an App like this helps you work through all the ramifications slowly, and in your own time, to fully digest what’s involved and how you can work with your doctor to make the best of it. A very positive experience.”
David Crabb, Professor of Statistics and Vision Research and lead of the Crabb Lab at City, University of London, commented:
“If you have glaucoma, or someone you know has glaucoma, this app has been developed for you. Patient information for glaucoma suffers from being complicated, poorly presented, or inaccurate. We think Glaucoma in Perspective offers a fresh look. We hope it will help people understand how and why their vision could worsen if they don’t adhere to treatment.”
Karen Osborn, Glaucoma UK Chief Executive said:
“The Glaucoma in Perspective App is a great tool that brings information about glaucoma to a digital audience. We’ve worked in partnership with City, University of London and Allergan to review and improve the information it contains and the design of the app, making it accessible to a wider audience. We hope that the re-launch of the app will help raise awareness of glaucoma and Glaucoma UK, so that people living with the disease and their loved ones know we are here to support them.”
Andrew Stewart, Allergan, an AbbVie company, General Manager, GMCO Eyecare, commented:
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