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Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2009 Dec;37(9):849-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2009.02184.x.

Readability of prescription labels and medication recall in a population of tertiary referral glaucoma patients.

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Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



To evaluate readability of eye drop labels and accurate recall of prescription instructions in a glaucoma population.


A hospital-based, cross-sectional study. A trained, interviewer examined patient ability to read standard and larger font medication labels. A questionnaire was administered to ascertain accurate recall of prescribed eye drops. Clinical information was obtained through independent chart review. Glaucoma severity was classified according to a glaucoma staging system. The setting for the study was the glaucoma outpatient clinic, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), a major tertiary referral centre. A total of 200 glaucoma patients (96.2% response), aged 45-90 years, on eye drops took part in the study. Non-English-speaking patients were excluded. The main outcome measure was the ability to read prescribed medication labels and accurately recall treatment regime was compared with glaucoma severity and the number of eye drops.


Of the glaucoma patients, 12% were unable to read standard pharmacy labels. Only 5.5% were unable to read the larger font labels. Of the patients, 32% were not able to accurately recall the type of drops or prescribed frequency of instillation. An inability to read standard labels was associated with a threefold reduction in the likelihood of accurate medication recall (95% confidence intervals, 1.40-7.66, P < 0.05). Patients with three or more types of eye drops were five times less likely to recall their medications (95% confidence interval, 0.07-0.57, P < 0.05).


Inability to read or recall prescribed eye drops was associated with glaucoma severity and the number of prescribed eye drops. These factors may impact significantly on patients' adherence to glaucoma medications.

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