“Do I have Glaucoma?” This is a common question asked by patients. We do evaluate for it at every comprehensive exam. Many factors go into giving the diagnosis of glaucoma. We go through a screening process when taking your medical history, as well as testing that is part of a routine visit. If anything flags as unusual, more testing may need to be done.
Family history is one of the factors. We want to know if any close family members have had it or are watched for it.This includes parents, grandparents, siblings. Have they been told they have glaucoma or are they taking any medications or using eye drops to lower the pressure of their eyes? Or maybe they are just being watched for it and are considered a “glaucoma suspect”.
As part of every exam, we will measure the intraocular pressure of your eyes, or IOP. There is a normal range we are looking for, but normal can be a different number depending on the patient. If the pressure is read out of a list of “normal” numbers, we may do further testing. This includes measuring the thickness of the front surface of your eye to get a more accurate reading. If you have a family history of glaucoma or have suspicious looking nerves, your pressure may need to be lower than other patients.
We will look at the optic nerve in the back of your eye at your annual exam. If it appears to look “larger” or look like the nerve tissue is thinning, we may also decide to do more tests. It may naturally look a certain way, but testing over time helps us to determine if there are any new changes. Thinning leads to loss in peripheral vision.
Visual Field testing will show whether any peripheral vision is lost. You may think you have great peripheral vision, but it is actually very difficult to tell yourself until you have advanced loss in vision. Missing peripheral vision shows progression in glaucoma and we would consider a positive diagnosis with repeat testing.
Optic nerve OCT is a test that will actually measure the tissue of your optic nerve and over time will tell us if any thinning has happened. This is a very easy test to perform, just a picture we take in office.
So how does your eye keep a “normal” pressure? Well, there are parts of your eye that make the fluid that helps hold its shape. There are parts that help it drain out. Sometimes, that drain can become blocked and the pressure starts to build up. We will look at that drainage point with a lens that we place on the front surface of your eye and make sure the fluid can flow correctly.
If after all this testing we feel your pressure is still too high, we may begin treating. This includes starting with an eye drop to lower the pressure, or a laser treatment. If you have any concerns with glaucoma or have a family history, please contact our office for a comprehensive eye exam.
Has it been awhile since your last appointment? Ready to schedule an eye exam? Call (218)720-3553.