Determinants of medication adherence to topical glaucoma therapy

J Glaucoma. 2012 Apr-May;21(4):234-40. doi: 10.1097/IJG.0b013e31821dac86.


Introduction/purpose: To determine the associations between medical, demographic, socioeconomic, and ocular factors and adherence to topical glaucoma ocular hypotensive therapy.

Methods: One hundred sixteen patients with ocular hypertension or open-angle glaucoma from 2 tertiary glaucoma services participated in this prospective study. Adherence to ocular hypotensive therapy was measured using an electronic dose monitor (Travatan Dosing Aid, Alcon Laboratories Inc., Fort Worth, TX) and collected data at 3 months after enrollment. We used 3 different definitions of adherence: 1) Definition 1: the proportion of days taking the prescribed number of drops within 3 hours of the prescribed dosing time; 2) Definition 2: the proportion of days taking any drops within 3 hours of the prescribed dosing time; and 3) Definition 3: the proportion of days taking any drops within 6 hours of the prescribed dosing time. Univariate and multivariate models were used to determine the association between the 3 adherence definitions, medical, demographic, socioeconomic, and ocular factors at 3-month follow-up. The main outcome measures for this study were risk factors for poor objective medication adherence.

Results: Adherence, using Definition 1, Definition 2, and Definition 3, was 64%, 75%, and 80%, respectively. Age, total number of other eye diseases, and race were significantly associated with full treatment adherence (Definition 1), with race alone significantly predicting 11% of full treatment adherence. For Definition 2, age, income, level of education, and total number of eye diseases were significantly associated with partial adherence (3 h), again race alone significantly predicted 15% of partial adherence (any drops within 3 h). For Definition 3, race, income, level of education, and total number of other eye diseases significantly predicted partial adherence (any drops within 6 h), both race and income predicted 19% of partial treatment adherence. Significant differences for adherence rates between patients of European descent and those of African descent were found for all 3 definitions with those who were less adherent more likely to be of African descent.

Conclusions: Electronic dose monitors provide important information regarding adherence to topical ocular hypotensive medications in glaucoma patients. Electronic dose monitors show low adherence in a significant number of participants. Future studies are needed to determine the reasons for these differences in health behaviors related to glaucoma treatment, which should guide treatment of poor adherence with glaucoma therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Age Factors
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Monitoring / instrumentation
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / drug therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ocular Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / administration & dosage
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic / administration & dosage*
  • Racial Groups
  • Tonometry, Ocular


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic