Why you need to know why

Mr D (not real name) walked into the clinic with a painful red eye. He revealed that over a year ago he was diagnosed with glaucoma. He was given an eye drop and referred to another doctor for surgery. He used the eye drop for about two weeks and stopped after he felt better. He never went to see the doctor he was referred to. 3 months later he had another episode of painful red eye, he went to the pharmacy, bought the same eye drop, used it for 2 weeks and stopped. He kept doing this until the day he walked into the clinic.

After eye examination, we discovered he had angle-closure glaucoma. It is a less common type of glaucoma in which the drainage channel in the eye gets blocked and fluids build up quickly leading to a sudden rise in eye pressure. Eye drops are usually given to lower eye pressure but surgery is required to unblock the drainage channel in order to lower pressure better and prevent further optic nerve damage and vision loss.

We had to refer him but before doing that, he went through motivational interview.  This uncovered that the main reason for non-compliance was poor understanding of the type of glaucoma he had in addition to the fear of surgery. He was willing to cooperate when he understood the eye condition better and why surgery was recommended. The “why” helped him see that the benefits of the surgery outweighed the risks and his fear of surgery reduced. Our joy was complete when he called about a month later to say thank you and also inform us that he had done the surgery.

Knowing what to do is good but it is often not enough to motivate you to action. Knowing “why” changes everything. It drives you to action. Even when you do not like the reason, if it makes sense, you are more likely to act.

You will struggle with complying with eye care recommendations and treatment if you do not know why. So, seek to know the “why”.