Diagnosing Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a difficult disease because there may not symptoms to warn you that you may have it. The most common type of glaucoma, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, has virtually no symptoms and no pain. At times vision loss begins with your peripheral, or side vision, but you may compensate for this involuntarily by turning your head to the side and not notice anything until substantial vision is lost. Half the people who have glaucoma may not know they have it.

An eye exam may be used to diagnose glaucoma. The doctor will need to examine the inside of the eye by looking through the pupil, often while the pupil is dilated. The doctor will usually perform a complete eye exam.

Checking the intraocular pressure alone (tonometry) is not enough to diagnose glaucoma because eye pressure changes. Pressure in the eye is normal in about 25% of people with glaucoma. This is called normal-tension glaucoma. There are other problems that cause optic nerve damage.

Tests to diagnose glaucoma include:

  • Gonioscopy (use of a special lens to see the outflow channels of the angle)
  • Tonometry test to measure eye pressure
  • Optic nerve imaging (photographs of the inside of the eye)
  • Pupillary reflex response
  • Retinal examination
  • Slit lamp examination
  • Visual acuity
  • Visual field measurement


To schedule an eye exam click here or call 1-800 EYECARE. Early detection and treatment is crucial for protecting your vision.

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