Routine eye exams can help your optometrist diagnose early-stage ocular diseases such as glaucoma before they progress to total vision loss. Your eye doctor will look inside your eye with a slit lamp and ophthalmoscope, and if warranted, order additional diagnostic testing if your exam undercovers any abnormalities. Here are some ways eye exams can reveal the presence of glaucoma.
Glaucoma causes an increase in eye pressure, which if not recognized and treated early in its progression, can lead to vision loss. Your optometrist will use a method of testing known as tonometry testing to check your eye pressure. This test is painless, however, during the test, you may feel as though a gentle puff of air is blowing onto your eye.
While no pain is involved during the air puff tonometry test, your eye doctor may administer a numbing drop into each eye so that the surface of your eye is anesthetized. This will help prevent you from flinching or from becoming startled when the air touches your eye. Tonometry testing takes only a few seconds and there is no preparation needed before the test, nor is there any downtime after the test.
Visual Field Examination
While glaucoma can affect your central vision, it is more likely to affect your peripheral, or side vision. To assess your peripheral vision, your eye doctor may recommend a visual field test. For a simple visual field assessment, your optometrist may ask you to look straight ahead and then ask you what you see in your side vision.
While this test may be a good indicator of your peripheral vision health, the eye doctor may recommend a different type of automated or more sophisticated examination. If your doctor determines that you have glaucoma, he or she will base your treatment on how high your eye pressure is.
If your eye pressure, otherwise known as intraocular pressure, is only mildly elevated, beta-blocker eye drops may be prescribed. Conversely, if your eye pressure is significantly elevated, laser surgery to relieve intraocular pressure may be recommended. Glaucoma treatments can help slow the progression of the disease, which means that prompt treatment will be necessary.
If you develop problems with your peripheral vision or if you experience severe eye pain, redness, or sensitivity to light, see your eye doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms may be indicative of glaucoma and will need to be assessed and treated right away.