What Are All Of The Weird Tests?
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Since this will be the year you start having an annual eye exam to protect your most important sense, let’s learn one of the diseases that can steal that sense from you, glaucoma. You don’t feel it or know you are going blind when you have it.
The dreaded AIR PUFF. I wish I could say optometrists got together to come up with a test we could perform on patients and claim it gave us crucial information, when really our sick minds just wanted to torture patients with an innocent test. Alas, the puff of air is a legit test that does not hurt at all, but can certainly frighten you. It is used to measure the pressure of the fluid in the eyeball, giving us an idea of your risk for the potentially-blinding eye disease glaucoma. You won’t feel this pressure, and the inevitable loss of sight that comes with it happens so slowly you won’t notice it. Really.
Fortunately, there are alternative tests that give us identical information. The iCare instrument is one such test. Just a soft tickle to the eyelashes gives me instant results, so easy even a grown man can do it.
Patients often ask what their pressures are. I understand the curiosity, but the pressure is just an indicator. Low or normal pressures do not mean you don’t have the disease, as higher pressures don’t mean you do. There are other tests which need to be done to give us the whole picture.
Glaucoma causes loss of the side vision, so we need to assess if any loss has occurred unbeknownst to you. The visual field test checks your peripheral, or side, vision. Look into a “bowl” and press a button when you think you see a point of light. Pretty easy, but tedious, and crucial to determine if any progression is occurring. Not all offices have this at their fingertips.
The fanciest test is the OCT, ocular coherence tomography. The test is as easy as a picture, but gives me information below the top surface of the retina, to look at the integrity of the layers underneath. Also crucial in assessing damage from glaucoma, and I use it for diabetics, macular degeneration, wrinkles of the retina, and more. Again, not all offices have this advanced equipment to manage potential concerns.
I generally don’t break out the latter two tests unless someone has sick eyes, so be grateful if you’ve never had those done.
And as usual, make it your goal to have an eye exam this year for the ENTIRE family. I promise it will be (relatively:-)) easy, and we can check your risk of blinding eye diseases. Plus, you might meet @gumdropthepig.