Why You Need Glaucoma Testing At Your Next Eye Exam

Glaucoma is a condition that affects approximately three million people in the United States; although, experts believe only about half of that number is aware that they have the condition. Glaucoma means that you have elevated pressure inside of your eye that if left untreated, can permanently damage your optic nerve, causing you to lose some or all of your sight. If you are over age forty, you need to have your eyesight tested regularly each year to see if you have glaucoma. You may need to invest in some or all of the following tests.


Tonometry is the most basic test used to see if you may have the condition. The eye doctor will put drops in your eyes and test the pressure by using a puff of air or slight pressure. The tonometer will measure the pressure. Readings over 20mm HG may indicate that you have glaucoma, although every eye is different. 


If your pressure is on the high side or you exhibit other possible symptoms of glaucoma, such as impaired vision, your doctor may suggest using a pachymeter to measure the thickness of your corneas. If you have thick corneas, your actual eye pressure may be lower than your score indicates. On the other hand, thinner corneas may mean that your eye pressure is higher than it tests. You could have glaucoma even with a lower pressure reading. 

Optic Nerve Scan

When you have glaucoma, your optic nerve may be damaged. Eye doctors can use new or used optometry equipment to scan and photograph the optic nerve. This process can see minute damage to the optic nerve layers, which can signal glaucoma. Although this damage cannot be corrected, your doctor can prevent further damage by closely monitoring your eye or eyes and treating the condition with medication or, in some cases, surgery. As a result, the damage from glaucoma can be slowed or stopped completely. 

As you age, your ophthalmologist will want to check your eyes more frequently for glaucoma. If you have a history of the condition in your family, these additional checks will occur at a younger age. Do not be alarmed if your doctor wants to do more tests than just tonometry. Eye pressure varies, and a higher reading does not necessarily mean you have glaucoma. You do need to invest in these additional tests to be certain that you do not suffer permanent vision damage.