A Holistic Approach to Treating Glaucoma

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Dr. Salman Waqar, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and specialist in adult glaucoma and cataract surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai

In recent years, holistic approaches in medicine have gained popularity. A holistic approach appreciates the diversity of cultures and beliefs and encourages the treatment of a patient as a sum of its parts and not just the disease itself. Traditionally, doctors would focus on the physical aspects of a disease or on treating the symptoms without addressing the cause. However, in holistic medicine, there is an increased appreciation for the social, spiritual, and emotional factors that contribute to disease.

In line with National Glaucoma Awareness Month (January), Dr. Salman Waqar, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and specialist in adult glaucoma and cataract surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, uncovers everything you need to know about the holistic treatment of one of the world’s leading causes of blindness, glaucoma, an eye disease that manifests as elevation of eye pressure, causing damage to the optic nerve.

Why is holistic treatment important?

A holistic approach towards managing glaucoma is crucial because the condition can have a variety of effects on the patient’s overall quality of life. 

These factors can range from difficulty attending regular clinic appointments (due to long travel distances) to struggling to adhere to regular eye drops schedules (particularly if working conditions are an impediment), as well as, managing mental stress of the diagnosis and in more advanced cases, coping with lifestyle changes (such as inability to drive) due to vision loss. 

A doctor with a holistic approach will adopt a patient-centred approach, considering all these factors and creating a bespoke management plan optimised to the individual’s needs. 

The patient is always at the heart of what we do, therefore, our primary aim is to help our patients maintain healthy vision throughout their lives. 

Given that glaucoma treatment, could be a life-long journey to preserve vision, doctors and patients need to work closely with one another.  Together both parties play a key part in the information flow and decision-making at every step of the process.

What protocol is used to determined treatment options? 

The treatment of glaucoma has improved remarkably over the last twenty years. Results from numerous high-quality research studies from around the globe now guide our management algorithms. 

From an eye specialist’s perspective, our common go-to protocols are from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the European Glaucoma Society (EGS). All advocate appropriate lowering of the eye pressure alongside regular follow up visits to ensure vision is protected long term.

What are the different aspects of treatment that need to be considered as part of the treatment plan?

In terms of treatment, the main priority is to lower the eye pressure adequately thereby preserving vision. With the advancement of modern technology, we are truly fortunate to have a variety of treatment options to help achieve this – whether it be eye drops, gentle laser treatments or surgical options which are often minimally invasive. 

From a patient’s standpoint, the most important consideration is to maintain adherence to treatment (such as regular use of eye drops) and to remember the importance of follow up appointments.

At MEHD, our doctors will consider all the aspects mentioned above as part of a holistic approach and create a bespoke treatment plan that will not only control the eye pressure but also help maintain the patient’s quality of life. Overall, we practice holistic medicine because it is beneficial for long-term health as it not only aids in curing the existing problem but can help prevent other symptoms from flaring down the line.

About Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (MEHD) is the first overseas branch of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the oldest and one of the largest centres for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in the world. Located at the Al Razi Medical Complex in Dubai Health Care City, the facility provides day case surgery and outpatient diagnostic and treatment services, for a variety of surgical and non-surgical eye conditions. MEHD will also raise standards for research and teaching in the region. MEHD is owned and managed by the NHS Foundation Trust, and maintains close links with London, to ensure that patients in the GCC receive the best eye care treatment in the world.