In keeping with our patient-centric mission, since inception, we have never used the dreaded “air-puff test” to measure intraocular pressure (or what some people call the “glaucoma” test). Although most patients preferred the Goldmann tonometer, some just couldn’t stand the idea of anything touching their eye, even if they were numb. Others feel that any type of eye drop is torture. Fortunately, we now have the Icare tonometer to measure IOP without shooting a puff of air into your eye or using numbing drops.
The Icare tonometer consists of a handle with a tiny white plastic ball that is brought very close to the eye. Then it taps on the cornea faster than a blink. The patient only feels a quick tickle, if anything, so it can be used without anesthetic. That’s especially helpful with young children. Since we started using the Icare tonometer in early 2012, we haven’t had any patients that couldn’t do it. In fact, we have been able to measure the pressure of some patients on whom it had never been possible in the past due to aversion to other methods.
While the Icare tonometer is a precise instrument, it is primarily used as a fast, easy screening tool. Any unusual readings warrant repeat testing with Goldmann tonometry, the gold standard for IOP measurement, which does require the use of an anesthetic eye drop and sodium fluorescein dye. Goldmann tonometry is also preferred for monitoring IOP in glaucoma suspects and patients with glaucoma.
It is important to keep in mind that IOP is just one factor that we consider when diagnosing glaucoma. While it is frequently used as a “glaucoma” screening test at health fairs, patients with high IOPs can be normal and patients with normal IOPs can have glaucoma.
Since patients with glaucoma frequently do not have symptoms until significant damage has occurred, it is important to receive regular comprehensive eye exams where we also take into consideration medical history and risk factors along with the assessment of the optic nerve, drainage structures of the eye, corneal thickness, visual fields (a measure of your peripheral vision), and photos of the optic nerve.
Call 248-241-6537 today to ensure your eyes are healthy for a lifetime!