Glaucoma tests and treatments

July 10, 2015

Get your eyes checked regularly if you are at risk of glaucoma. There are three types of tests your ophthalmologist can conduct.

Glaucoma tests and treatments

1. Appearance of the retina

  • Some changes may be apparent when your retina is examined through an ophthalmoscope, and scans of the retina may be performed, both to check for any damage and to establish a baseline against which to monitor any possible progress of the disease.

2. Pressure measurement

  • There are several tests, called tonometry, that measure pressure inside the eyeball. These include the puff test and also more accurate tests that involve pressing a small instrument against the outside of the eye and measuring its resistance to pressure.
  • Don't worry, your eyes will be numbed with anaesthetic drops first — but be careful not to rub them until the drops wear off in case you unknowingly hurt them.

3. Your peripheral vision

  • A test called perimetry looks at what you are able to see out of the corner of your eye.
  • You sit with your chin resting at the edge of a bowl-shaped screen, focusing on a light in the middle. Whenever you notice a flash or a movement anywhere on the screen, you press a button; your responses allow the machine to map your visual fields, identifying any areas that you fail to spot.
  • Each eye is tested separately and the whole test takes about 30 minutes.

Reducing the pressure

  • The earlier the treatment is started the better and, in the majority of cases, treatment stops eyesight from getting any worse.
  • Most people are given eye drops that control the pressure in the eye, but these are not suitable for everyone; the drugs can cause problems in people who have heart or breathing disorders, for example, and may also interact with medications taken for other conditions.
  • Laser treatment can also be successful although in some cases, patients need to continue using eye drops. Surgery is an option if other therapies fail.
  • Overall, drug treatment is successful for most people, but you and your doctor might have to try several different types before you find the one that works best for you.
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