What are the tests done to diagnose glaucoma?

Glaucoma is diagnosed by performing the following 4 essential tests:

  1. Measurement of intraocular pressure with a tonometer (see How is tonometry done?).
  2. Gonioscopy to view the drainage angle (trabecular meshwork) and see if it is open or closed (see How is gonioscopy done?).
  3. Examination of the structure of the optic nerve (see How is the optic nerve examined?).
  4. Evaluation of function of the optic nerve (visual field / perimetry) (see How is the visual field examined?).

In addition to these basic exams, additional tests that may be performed include:

  • Pachymetry (corneal thickness): helps interpret eye pressure measurements.
  • Special visual field tests (Frequency doubling / Short wave perimetry): to assess different aspects of visual function.
  • Imaging of the optic nerve and retinal nerve fiber layer with machines such as the HRT, GDx or OCT: to assess and quantify the presence of glaucomatous structural damage.
  • Additional evaluation of the angle with Ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) / anterior segment optical coherence tomography (ASOCT) Of note, these exams are required in just a few cases, as usually gonioscopy exam is enough to evaluate the angle.

World Glaucoma Association

Important message for glaucoma patients

It is important for you to get yourself regularly screened for glaucoma. If you have been diagnosed to have glaucoma, effective treatment options are now available and regular treatment and follow up can help you to preserve your vision for your lifetime, avoiding unnecessary fear of going blind.

You can live happily with glaucoma and enjoy an excellent quality of life, particularly if the disease is detected early and treated in time. Always remember that once you have glaucoma, you will have to be under the care of an eye doctor for the rest of your life.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments may become available for glaucoma in the near future.

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