How Optometrists Screen For Glaucoma

How Optometrists Screen For Glaucoma

The eye is a very complex yet fragile system and any slight changes to its function can severely affect your vision. Visiting your Optometrist for regular comprehensive eye exams will help mitigate the risks of developing certain eye conditions to protect your vision and overall ocular health. One of these conditions that your optometrist will test for is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a term that covers a group of diseases with a characteristic pattern of optic nerve damage. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual signals to the brain to be processed. The most common causes of glaucoma are genetics and built-up fluid pressure in the eye. Unfortunately, you cannot reverse the effects of glaucoma, but some treatments help slow down the progression of the disease.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Glaucoma

Most people who develop glaucoma do not show any signs or symptoms until their vision becomes impacted. This is why it is crucial to attend regular comprehensive eye exams especially after the age of 65 so your optometrist can detect the early onset of the disease. Some common symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Patchy blind spots in your peripheral vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Eye pain

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, book an appointment with your optometrist right away so they can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine if you have glaucoma.

How Optometrists Screen For Glaucoma

Tonometry Eye Pressure Check
Increased eye pressure is one of the tell-tale signs of glaucoma. You can think of increased eye pressure as a risk factor of glaucoma just like how high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Your eye doctor will first place numbing eye drops in your eye before placing an instrument called a tonometer on the surface of your eye. The tonometer will measure the pressure level of your inner eye. Normal pressure within the eye is between 12-22 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

Ophthalmoscopy Test
Your optometrist will dilate your eyes with special eye drops so they are able to get a magnified, 3D view of your optic nerves. They will assess the shape, depth, size, colour, and vessels of the optic nerve. While your eyes are dilated, your optometrist may also perform an examination of the central and peripheral retina.

Visual Field Test
This functional test allows your optometrist to tell if you have lost any field of vision from glaucoma, how much you have lost, and will help determine the rate of disease progression. This test is very helpful to help tailor an effective treatment plan as they will be able to see how far your glaucoma has progressed.

This test is also known as an “angle test” in which your optometrist will place a contact lens on your eye that contains a mirror. They will be able to see if the angle between the iris and cornea is open or if it is closed and blocked. If the space is too open or closed, it can be an indication of glaucoma.

Cornea Thickness Test
Your doctor of optometry will numb your eyes with eye drops before placing a small probe on your cornea to measure its thickness. This test will help determine the severity of glaucoma and can assist in determining a treatment plan.

SE Calgary Glaucoma Screening

Glaucoma can be difficult to diagnose, so several tests are often needed to determine an effective treatment plan. The best way you can prevent developing glaucoma is by seeing your eye doctor for regular comprehensive eye exams. Often glaucoma can be controlled with eyedrop medication to help lower eye pressure, especially if it is diagnosed in the early stages. Unfortunately, once changes to your vision occur, they cannot be reversed. However, it can be treated with prescription lenses and contacts.

Our SE Calgary optometry clinic can help you rule out any disease or eye conditions and develop treatment options to relieve your aggravating symptoms and help you see clearly. Our SE Calgary optometrists are here for you; book an eye exam with us today!


Q: Can an optometrist restore my vision if it has been damaged by glaucoma?
A: Unfortunately, the effects of glaucoma cannot be reversed. They can however be managed through treatments such as medicated eye drops or prescription lenses.

Q: Can people of all ages develop glaucoma?
A: Yes, everyone of all ages can develop glaucoma. It is more common in adults over the age of 65, therefore they are recommended to receive more frequent comprehensive eye exams.

Q: Is glaucoma hereditary?
A: Recent research has unveiled  a hereditary aspect to glaucoma. Certain people have genes that are linked to optic nerve damage and abnormally high eye pressure.

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