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How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

optometrist conducting eye exam

Glaucoma is a general term describing a group of eye disorders that damage your optic nerve and cause loss of peripheral vision. It is important to detect glaucoma early to prevent irreversible optic nerve and peripheral vision loss, especially since the vast majority of glaucoma cases are asymptomatic in early stages. To detect glaucoma in its early stages and prevent vision loss, it’s important to visit your optometrist regularly for a comprehensive eye exam. Here’s what you need to know.

How is Glaucoma Detected?

Optometrists rely on the following tests to detect and diagnose glaucoma.

1. Tonometry. This test measures the intraocular pressure (IOP), or inner pressure of the eye using a small device or puff of air. People with glaucoma have high intraocular pressure because the fluid inside the eye drains too slowly.

2. Ophthalmoscopy. This test allows optometrists to examine the optic nerve at the back of the eye, called the fundus, for signs of glaucoma damage. Eye drops are used to dilate the pupil so the optometrist can examine the shape, colour, and contour of the optic nerve.

3. Perimetry. This is a visual field test that can be used to detect vision loss caused by glaucoma. To do the test, you sit and look inside a bowl-shaped instrument called a perimeter. While you stare at the centre of the bowl, lights flash. You must press a button each time you see a flash. This helps determine if you have any subtle or large blind spots.

4. Gonioscopy. This painless test helps determine whether the drainage angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or narrow and closed. After numbing eye drops have been applied, a specialized contact lens is placed on the eye to evaluate the internal drainage system of the eye.

5. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). This is a painless imaging device that measures the optic nerve, cornea, and retinal layers with precision. This test helps detect thinning of the optic nerve to help diagnose glaucoma or monitor its progression.

6. Pachymetry. This test measures the thickness of your cornea and can be done with a probe or with light using an OCT. Thin corneas are one glaucoma risk factor .

7. Medical History – Including family history, medications, and medical conditions.

Glaucoma Treatment

There are various types of glaucoma treatment. Depending on the severity of your condition, your optometrist may suggest or refer for one of the following:

  • Medication. Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. They lower the pressure in your eye and prevent damage to your optic nerve.

  • Laser treatment. Lasers can help drain the fluid from your eye and lower your eye pressure. It’s a simple procedure that your doctor can do in the office.

  • Surgery. If eye drops and laser treatment doesn’t work, your doctor might suggest surgery. Several different types of surgery can help the fluid drain out of your eye.

Glaucoma Testing and Treatment in Edmonton

If you have concerns about glaucoma or need a comprehensive eye exam, book an appointment at Optometrists’ Clinic Inc. in Edmonton. Our optometrists perform general and ocular health eye exams for patients of all ages. Contact us today to book an appointment at one of our five locations in Edmonton, Leduc and Westlock.


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