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Santen EMEA leads awareness campaign to urge patients not to lose sight of their glaucoma during the COVID-19 pandemic

Thu 4 March 2021

Santen, together with a group of patient advocacy groups (PAG) across Europe, is leading a multi-channel awareness campaign to encourage patients to prioritise their glaucoma during the pandemic. The on-and-offline campaign including a survey of over 2,000 patients across Europe, underlines the importance of continuing to follow expert, healthcare professional advice, including advised eye drop administration, picking up repeat prescriptions and engaging in follow up appointments, digitally or in person where possible. 

Karen Osborn, Chief Executive Officer of Glaucoma UK, a leading charity helping people living with glaucoma, said: “We know that many people will be doing their very best to maintain their eye health during the COVID-19 pandemic, however the results of this survey highlight that more can be done to support people at this challenging time. Now more than ever, it is important that people with glaucoma keep their medical appointments, collect their prescriptions and use their eye drops as prescribed. Any disruption to care can lead to vision loss and permanent, irreversible blindness. Glaucoma UK is here to support people living with glaucoma. We can provide advice and guidance, so please visit our website www.glaucoma.uk for more information.”

Side effects such as red, stinging eyes and blurry vision are already known to discourage adherence to glaucoma topical treatments.1 Given the clear, clinically-significant link between poor adherence and vision loss,2 and the seismic shift in personal priorities during the pandemic, many in the ophthalmology community had raised concerns regarding the potential consequences of uncontrolled glaucoma and vision loss.

Many patients may have struggled to follow the advice of their healthcare professionals due to anxieties around risking increased exposure to COVID-19 when picking up prescriptions.3 The impact of the crisis on healthcare services has further compounded this, with many outpatient visits and surgical procedures postponed.4 Santen EMEA’s awareness campaign has been designed to deliver an educational and encouraging message to glaucoma patients across Europe. 

The first phase of activities reached millions of patients in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain and the UK in national and regional newspapers and on radio, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and other digital channels. The response was significant with over 202,859 engagements on social media and spikes in website traffic from patients to participating patient advocacy group educational webpages.5 

As the pandemic continues, Santen is committed to encouraging patients to make positive choices to manage their glaucoma and protect their vision. To do this and continue to contribute to the wellbeing of patients, their loved ones and society, a second phase of activities will be coordinated to mark World Glaucoma Week (WGW, 7-13 March 2021). Over the course of WGW, and indeed in the weeks following, Santen and our PAG partners will share patient stories from across Europe in their respective national and regional press outlets. These stories will shine a light on the challenges that glaucoma patients have faced during the pandemic and aim to empower others to not lose sight of their condition. 

“As the pandemic continues, Santen remains committed to protecting and supporting people with glaucoma and healthcare professionals,” said Luis Iglesias, President and Head of Santen EMEA. “We hope that this campaign will play a part in empowering and educating glaucoma patients and preventing further avoidable vision loss due to the disease.”

References:
1.    Data on file. Expert working group on holistic glaucoma management virtual meeting. Meeting Report. NP-GLAU-EMEA-0210.
2.    Newman-Casey PA et al. Ophthalmology 2020;127(4):477–483.
3.    Data on file. Patient survey results.
4.    Toro MD, et al. Early impact of COVID-19 outbreak on eye care: Insights from EUROCOVCAT group (2020), European Journal of Ophthalmology. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1120672120960339 
5.    Data on file. Campaign performance summary.

Document number: NP-GLAU-EMEA-0238
Date of preparation: March 2021