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How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Like a thief in the night, glaucoma robs you of your eyesight without warning. That’s what makes regular eye exams so critical. You can outsmart glaucoma by taking a proactive approach, especially if it runs in your family, you already have vision problems, or you’re over 40, since these factors put you in a high risk group. 

Specializing in catching glaucoma early and treating it successfully, Dr. Stephen Wolchok here at Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, offers state-of-the-art diagnostic testing to patients throughout Jacksonville, Florida. By finding the hidden signs, he can save your eyesight and give you peace of mind.

Diagnosing glaucoma

Once you see the symptoms of glaucoma, the condition has already advanced to a dangerous stage. Primary open-angle glaucoma generally comes to your attention when you start to lose your peripheral vision. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is more serious and comes on suddenly with pain, halo vision around lights, nausea, and headaches. If this happens, call us immediately, or get medical attention right away.

Untreated glaucoma is the top reason for blindness. Even though the symptoms and consequences of glaucoma can be scary, the good news is that a little bit of foresight can save your vision. Annual visits to see Dr. Wolchok are your best bet for stopping glaucoma in its tracks before it ruins your vision. Here’s how the diagnostic process works.

Eye pressure test

Glaucoma occurs when the pressure in your eye increases and damages your optic nerve. Most often, the pressure is caused by a malfunction in the way your eye’s drainage system works. The natural fluid in your eye, called aqueous humor, ideally flows into your eye, lubricates it, then exits. But blockage can cause backup and increase the pressure.

Checking the pressure in your eyes is one of the first steps in Dr. Wolchok’s battery of tests. In a procedure called tonometry, he starts with a few simple drops to numb your eyeball, then uses a small lighted instrument to gently touch the surface. The instrument delivers a reading of the pressure.

Although everyone is different, the general acceptable range of pressure is between 10-21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). 

Drainage-angle test

Next, Dr. Wolchok performs a gonioscopy to examine the drainage angle in your eye. This is the point where fluid should exit the front of your eye, and it’s located where your iris and cornea meet.

Again, Dr. Wolchok numbs your eyes with drops so that you won’t feel any discomfort. Then he places a special contact lens on your eye. Using a microscope and a beam of light to illuminate the angle, Dr. Wolchok can determine if you have blockage or damage.

Optic nerve test

The test for optic nerve damage, called ophthalmoscopy, starts with eye drops that dilate your pupils and make them wide enough for Dr. Wolchok to see through your eye to your optic nerve. The size, shape, and color alert him to possible damage. 

Peripheral vision test

To get an idea of your field of vision and determine if you’ve begun to experience any loss, Dr. Wolchok maps your ability to see objects all around you using a perimetry test. You simply look at a light directly ahead of you and track it as it lights up in different positions around you. Because loss of peripheral vision is an one of the indicators of glaucoma, Dr. Wolchok can use this information to compare your field of vision in subsequent visits to track any changes. 

Cornea thickness test

Finally, Dr. Wolchok measures the thickness of your cornea — which is simply the front of your eye — in a test called a pachymetry. It’s quick and painless, but reveals valuable information. Because the thickness of your cornea can affect your eye pressure, it’s important to know if your eye pressure reading is skewed by this factor. 

Help for glaucoma

Depending on what type of glaucoma you have and how advanced it is, Dr. Wolchok can preserve your eyesight by treating your primary open-angle or acute angle-closure glaucoma with medication, laser surgery, or traditional surgery to restore the drainage system and your vision.

Everyone can benefit from regular annual vision check-ups, but there are some who are at a higher risk than others:

If you fall into any of these categories, do yourself a favor and call or click to make an appointment with Dr. Wolchok. It could be the most important eye exam you ever schedule.

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