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All About Glaucoma Testing


Glaucoma is an umbrella term for different types of diseases and conditions which gradually result in reduced vision and sometimes blindness. Because glaucoma develops so slowly with time – it is possible to have the condition for years without experiencing any obvious symptoms - glaucoma testing is recommended to catch these diseases early to begin prompt treatment and to prevent vision loss and blindness in affected individuals.

Types of Glaucoma Testing Procedures

Four types of glaucoma testing procedures are used to test for and diagnose glaucoma: tonometry, perimetry, opthalmoscopy, and gonioscopy.

A tonometry test is usually the first test an eye doctor will use during a routine glaucoma screening. During the test, numbing drops are applied to the eyes and a tonometry tool is used to measure the pressure in each eye – a reading known as intraocular pressure (increased intraocular pressure may indicate glaucoma).

An opthalmoscopy test is a close examination of the inside of the eyes and particularly of the optic nerves. During the test the doctor will dim the lights and use an ophthalmoscope to look inside the eyes – abnormalities to the optic nerves can indicate glaucoma.

A perimetry test will help to determine any loss to the field of vision. During the test, the patient will need to look straight ahead. A light is then flashed at the outer edges of the normal field of vision, and the patient will need to alert the doctor when they see the light.

A gonioscopy test is used to examine the natural angle which occurs between the eye’s iris and cornea. The test involves numbing the eyes and using a tool to closely look at the structures within each eye. Gonioscopy can be used to diagnose and identify open-angle or close-angle glaucoma.

Eye doctors may also recommend optic nerve computer imaging scans which will give the doctor a three dimensional view of the optic nerve. Imaging scans can help doctors to better assess test results and to determine the best course of treatment for glaucoma conditions.

Glaucoma Testing Recommendations

Most doctors use tonometry and opthalmoscopy tests as a part of routine eye examinations – so for people who need to see an eye doctor every year for prescription eye glasses or contacts, these tests are usually administered yearly. Current glaucoma testing recommendations based on age are as follows:

  • Less than 40 years - every two to four years.
  • Between the ages of 40 to 54 years - every one to three years.
  • Between the ages of 55 to 64 – every one to two years.
  • 65 or older – every 6 to 12 months

Persons who have increased risk factors for glaucoma – such as nearsightedness, long term corticosteroid use, chronic eye infections, diabetes, or a family history of glaucoma – should receive glaucoma tests every one to two years.

If you have not had glaucoma testing within the recommended times, or you are concerned about any risks you may have for glaucoma, schedule an appointment with an eye-doctor as soon as possible.

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