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How is glaucoma diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

Glaucoma is diagnosed with several tests in addition to the patient's history. These tests include tonometry, the measure of inner eye pressure; opthalmoscopy, the examination of the optic nerve; and perimetry, a map of the visual field measuring peripheral vision in particular.

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How is glaucoma diagnosed?
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Full Answer

Additional testing for glaucoma may include gonioscopy, an examination of the openness of the angle where the cornea and iris meet, and pachymetry, a measure corneal thickness. These tests are usually included in a comprehensive eye exam with dilation.

Symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on whether it is closed or open angle. Acute, closed angle glaucoma develops suddenly with eye redness, severe eye pain and blurred vision. Patients may also experience nausea and vomiting, halos around lights and visual disturbances in low light. It is considered a medical emergency. Open angle glaucoma develops more gradually with a loss of peripheral vision and tunnel vision in advanced stages.

Glaucoma is treated with eye drops to bring down the pressure in the eye as rapidly as possible. Drops may be used singly or in combination with one another. Surgical intervention may also be necessary, beginning with laser surgery to help drain fluid from the eye and progressing to drainage valve implant surgery which places a tube in the eye to help remove fluid and reduce pressure.

Risk factors for glaucoma include increased age, being of African-American race, corticosteroid use and a family history of the disease. Eye injuries, medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and other eye diseases also increase risk.

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