A significant proportion of glaucoma patients present late, particularly in the developing world, and unfortunately, in an advanced stage of the disease. They are at imminent danger of losing remaining vision, and may also be afflicted with various socioeconomic and health challenges. The encounter with such a patient is typically characterized by anxiety/fear and sometimes hopelessness from the patient's perspective. The physician may also feel that they are in a difficult position managing the patient's disease. When dealing with such cases, we suggest a holistic, individualized approach taking into account the 'biopsychosociospiritual' (BPSS) profile of each patient. The BPSS model takes into account relevant ocular as well as systemic biology (factors such as the mechanism of glaucoma, level of intraocular pressure [IOP], rate of progression, life expectancy, general health), psychological considerations (e.g., fear, depression), socio-economic factors and spiritual/cultural values and beliefs before being able to decide with the patient and their care partner(s) what treatment goals should be and how they can best be approached. Treatment for advanced glaucoma can be highly effective, and patients and their care partners should be informed that aggressive IOP lowering to the low teens or even single digits offers the best chance of protecting remaining vision. This can be achieved safely and effectively in most cases with trabeculectomy (including an antimetabolite), and in some cases with medical and/or laser therapy. Vision rehabilitation and psychosocial support should also be considered in order to optimize remaining vision, replace fear with hope as appropriate, and thus improve the overall quality of life.
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