Glaucoma, Early Detection, & The Eye Puff Test

Posted August 16, 2017


There is something we look forward to each and every year—your annual eye exam! Not only does it guarantee us an opportunity to see you, catch up, and learn about the latest happenings in your life –- it gives us the chance to check on your eye health—and overall health for that matter.

We use a range of tests, including digital imaging, pupil dilation, and eye pressure testing; to not only evaluate a person’s eyes, but to understand a patient’s overall health. This is why getting a yearly eye exam is a critical aspect of ensuring your health—and why you should be glad to come visit us too.

Glaucoma and The Air Puff Test

Speaking of annual exams, do you recall the “puff test”? We would bet you do, as it is typically memorable for all the wrong reasons—that sensation of air puffing in your eye can feel odd! Tolerating that brief puff of air is worth it because of the information it tells us. When you place your chin on the rest, stare at the colored light, and feel the puff in your eye, the air bounces back to a tonometer. The tonometer then measures the intraocular pressure, which is a very important piece of information for us to know. Increased eye pressure is an early indicator of a very serious eye condition, glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma affects the eye’s optic nerve, and typically occurs when fluid build up causes increased pressure inside the eye. Left untreated, glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve due to the increased pressure. There are two different types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form and typically has a slow onset. It is often painless, initially causing no changes to vision. We call it the “silent thief of sight”. Without staying on top of eye exams it can sneak up on you, ultimately impacting your vision in lasting ways—this is why we need regular eye exams.

Hope with Early Detection

Once a person develops vision loss from glaucoma, it cannot be regained. However, the good news is that when glaucoma is detected early, your vision can be protected. Normally eye drops are used to lower the pressure inside the eyes and halt any further damage.

Typically, there are no warning signs of glaucoma until a person has already suffered from vision loss. It is estimated that 2.2 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, but only half are aware they have the disease.

While many people do not experience symptoms of the disease, blurred vision, distorted vision or vision loss may be experienced. These symptoms are a good reason to come by for a visit—and not wait for your annual exam to roll around. Additionally, know your family history. If any of your immediate family members have glaucoma it is very important to let us know.

That Little Puff of Air Makes a Big Difference

The air puff test is an example of the importance of routine annual eye exams. In addition to testing for glaucoma, Our team can evaluate your eye health to rule out additional diseases, such as cataracts, retinal problems or diabetic damage to the eyes. Our team of optometrists is here to answer any of your questions and concerns pertaining to your optical health. Is it time to schedule an appointment at our Salem or Christiansburg office?

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