Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness around the world. Glaucoma is caused by excessive pressure behind the ocular nerves, resulting in damage that compromises a person’s vision. The problem with glaucoma is that it does not usually cause noticeable side effects until the condition has progressed to the point that damage is irreversible. However, in the United States, where patients have access to high quality eye care, glaucoma is often diagnosed early. At Monterey County Eye Associates, our team of eye doctors, Dr. Eric Del Piero and Dr. Leland Rosenblum, offer comprehensive glaucoma testing and diagnosis to give our Monterey, CA patients the best chance of controlling glaucoma so that it doesn’t lead to permanent vision loss.
When to Get Tested for Glaucoma
Any time that a person experiences changes in vision, such as loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, or the appearance of glares or halos, they should schedule a comprehensive eye exam to find out what is causing the vision loss. However, by the time these symptoms develop, the eye may already be damaged beyond repair. Rather than wait for symptoms to develop, the best way to test for glaucoma is through a regular schedule of routine eye exams. Below are some guidelines regarding how often patients should schedule these exams, based on age and eye health:
- Patients younger than aged 40 should schedule eye exams once every two years
- Patients aged 40 to 65 should schedule eye exams once every one to two years
- Patients aged 65 and older should schedule eye exams once every six months to a year
- Patients who are considered high risk for glaucoma or other eye diseases should schedule eye exams once a year starting at the age of 35
There are several tests that allow our doctors to examine the eyes for signs of glaucoma. These tests examine different aspects of the eye, including inner eye pressure, the shape and color of the optic nerves, the thickness of the cornea, the angle where the iris meets the cornea, and the field of vision. Below are brief descriptions of how these characteristics are tested:
- Inner eye pressure: Inner eye pressure is evaluated through a test called a tonometry. After numbing the eyes, a small amount of pressure is applied to the eyes via a tool or small puff of air. While everyone’s eye pressure is unique, a measurement over 20mm Hg is often an indicator of glaucoma.
- Shape and color of the optic nerves: A diagnostic procedure called an ophthalmoscopy allows our doctors to examine the color and shape of the nerves at the back of the eye. The eyes are first dilated and then a special tool is used to light and magnify the back of the eye. If the nerves look unusual, additional testing may be ordered.
- Thickness of the cornea: A pachymetry is a quick, painless test that measures the thickness of the cornea, the clear covering of the eye. It takes only about a minute to test both eyes and this can provide valuable information to help our doctors better understand the results of the eye pressure test.
- The angle where the iris meets the cornea: A gonioscopy is performed to test whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or closed and narrow. To perform this test, a special contact lens is placed in the eye. This lens has a mirror that shows our doctors the angle between the iris and the cornea.
- Field of vision: To test a patient’s field of vision, we perform an exam called a perimetry. During this exam, patients are asked to look straight ahead and then report when they see a light that is being passed over their peripheral field of vision. This test not only helps diagnose glaucoma, but is also useful for tracking the progression of glaucoma after it has been diagnosed.
All of these tests allow our doctors to diagnose glaucoma in its earliest stages so that it can be treated, controlled, and monitored so that patients can prevent permanent vision loss.
Schedule an Appointment
Routine eye exams allow our doctors to monitor a patient’s eye health so that any areas of concern can be addressed as soon as possible. To ensure that your eyes are healthy and functional, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors at your earliest convenience.