Posted on 18 June 2019
Top Tech at Colin Lee Opticians – No puff test for Glaucoma
This week is Glaucoma awareness week, so what better week to discuss what it is and how we at Colin Lee & Jenks Opticians are at the top of our game in detecting it.
Glaucoma is a complicated condition which actually should be called ‘the glaucomas’ as there are many different sub-groups of the disease. Essentially it is a neurodegenerative disease whereby the optic nerve, which is comprised of over a million nerve fibres in each eye, begins to lose nerve fibres at an accelerated rate. This can ultimately cause blindness if not treated. There are many risk factors for glaucoma, with family history and eye pressure being two of the most important. This is why we test adults’ eye pressure each time they come for an eye examination and if you are over 40 and related to a Glaucoma "sufferer", your sight test is free of charge. Approximately 1 person in 50 over the age of 40 has glaucoma, and up to 1 in 10 over the age of 80 but many of these are undiagnosed until there is significant visual loss.
Glaucoma doesn't usually cause any symptoms to begin with. It tends to develop slowly over many years and affects the edges of your vision (peripheral vision) first.
For this reason, many people don't realise they have glaucoma, and it's often only picked up during a routine eye test.
If you do notice any symptoms, they might include blurred vision, or seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights. Both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in one eye.
Very occasionally, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:
Intense eye pain
Nausea and vomiting
A red eye
Tenderness around the eyes
Seeing rings around lights
Here at Colin Lee and Jenks we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest advances in ophthalmic equipment. We were one of the first groups to solely use ‘no-puff’ instruments for checking eye pressures. Testing the eye pressure is important in adults as high eye pressures are one of the main risk factors for developing the eye disease, glaucoma.
The equipment used to measure eye pressure is called a tonometer. The very earliest tonometers involved the patient lying down, and weights being rested on the open eyes – unpleasant for the patient and not without risks! The air-puff tonometers were a huge step forward in tonometer technology but many people found this technique unpleasant and some people would actually avoid having their eyes tested as they disliked the stress caused by waiting so intensely for the dreaded ‘BANG!’ from the machine. In addition, as if that wasn’t bad enough, several readings had to be taken to get an average as the pressure in your eyes varies with the cycle of your heartbeat so one reading is not enough. Some air puffs require 3 readings per eye – but some up to 5.
Because we knew how much patients hated the anxiety-inducing ‘bang!’ from the old air puff instruments, when we came across the gentler ICare tonometers (which were originally developed in Finland) that hardly cause so much as a blink, we knew we had to invest in this. With this new instrumentation all you hear are some digital beeps to indicate the readings being taken, and you may feel a tickling sensation on your eyelashes. No more nasty puffs or bangs to worry about when you come to have an eye examination here!