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Risk Factors



Examination for Glaucoma

Because most people with glaucoma experience no noticeable symptoms, the eye examination for glaucoma is the single most important tool in preventing vision loss from the disease.

Glaucoma can be diagnosed only through a series of tests administered by trained personnel and interpreted by an ophthalmologist.

An examination for glaucoma may include:

  • History evaluation. The doctor or staff will ask questions about your medical and personal history, as well as your family's medical history.
  • Measurement of intraocular pressure (IOP) using an instrument called a tonometer (see photo).


    tonometry.gif (9570 bytes) The tonometer measures IOP using a pressure-sensitive tip placed gently near or against the eye (applanation or Schiotz tonometry), or by directing a brief puff of air gently onto the eye (air puff tonometry) . Short-acting anesthetic drops may be used to numb the eye for this procedure.
  • Inspection of the drainage angle. The ophthalmologist places a special lens on the eye in order to look at the area between the iris and the cornea to see if it is blocked. This procedure is called gonioscopy.
  • Ophthalmoscopy. The ophthalmologist uses drops to dilate (or widen) the pupil so he or she look at the optic nerve using a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope. This allows the ophthalmologist to evaluate any optic nerve damage that may have occurred.


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  • Perimetry is used to test your visual field. The visual field is the outside area that can be seen by the eye when fixed straight ahead. This test can tell the ophthalmologist how much vision has been lost, even if you notices no impairment.

Some of these tests may not be necessary for every patient, but more tests may be added, or repeated more frequently if glaucoma is suspected or if glaucoma damage increases over time.

Because your eye may be dilated during your exam, you may want to bring sunglasses with you to your appointment. Dilation can make your eyes extra sensitive to light for a short time after your exam.

Everyone should have regular medical eye examinations, but those at risk for glaucoma need to have more frequent exams.

We recommend you have an examination:

Every 3 to 5 years

  • if you are age 39 or over.

Every 1 to 2 years

  • if you are age 50 or over
  • if a family member has glaucoma
  • if you have had a serious eye injury in the past
  • if you are taking steroid medication

Remember that early detection and treatment can prevent vision damage.

If you think you're at risk for glaucoma, and haven't had a medical eye examination in the past two years, you can call the Eye Room at Manila Doctors Hospital 524-3011 loc 3720 for a referral to an ophthalmologist in your area.