Noncompliance with ocular hypotensive treatment in patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension an evidence-based review

Ophthalmology. 2005 Jun;112(6):953-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2004.12.035.


Objective: To summarize the available scientific evidence to support clinical decisions on how to deal with noncompliance in glaucoma patients.

Clinical relevance: Insufficient reduction of intraocular pressure and progression of visual field (VF) loss in glaucoma patients due to noncompliance with topical treatment may result in unnecessary therapy, with additional risks and costs.

Methods/literature reviewed: We conducted a literature search in the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsychInfo, and Cochrane and reference lists. Thirty-four articles describing 29 original quantitative studies, in English, German, French, or Dutch, were included. Studies on noncompliance in drug trials were excluded. Two investigators independently selected the articles and abstracted their content, before negotiating their inclusion or exclusion.

Results: The proportions of patients who deviate from their prescribed medication regimen ranged from 5% to 80%. The impact of noncompliance on clinical outcome has not yet been established. There are no determinants sensitive and specific enough to identify potential noncompliers accurately. Patient knowledge and dose frequency can be used as starting points to improve compliance. A combination of patient education and prevention of forgetting doses seems to be successful in enhancing patient compliance.

Conclusion: Noncompliance with hypotensive treatment is common among glaucoma patients. However, there is no strong evidence supporting a relation between noncompliance and progression of VF loss. Only a few guidelines for clinicians can be derived from the currently available literature. Future research should be guided by clinically relevant questions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Glaucoma / drug therapy*
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / drug effects*
  • Ocular Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Ocular Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prevalence
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vision Disorders / drug therapy
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Visual Fields / drug effects


  • Antihypertensive Agents