How is glaucoma diagnosed?

The initial examination is conducted with an ophthalmoscope in combination with the "red reflex" (i.e. light reflected from the fundus of the eye). High-pressure eyes often have an abnormal reflex. However, abnormal reflex can also be caused by various other reasons including cataracts, small pupils and bleeding on the retina, and hence does not imply that the eye has high pressure (the incorrect term for this is 'positive red reflex').

The next step in the diagnosis of glaucoma is to measure the intraocular pressure (IOP), which is simply the amount of pressure within the eye. Normal IOP is between 10-21 millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Even if an ophthalmologist is certain about the diagnosis of glaucoma in the case of a higher than normal IOP, it is very likely that there is other eye disease as well.

The visual field test and examination of the optic nerve may also be used, but that these require a knowledge of the effects of glaucoma on these areas, which of course requires an understanding of the specific pathophysiology of glaucoma.

What Is a Glaucoma Test?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. The optic nerve is located at the back of the eye and receives light from the retina at the back of the eye. Glaucoma occurs when too much fluid collects in the front part of the eye (called the anterior chamber) causing the pressure inside the eye (called intraocular pressure) to become higher than normal. This high pressure can damage the optic nerve, and if it is not treated, can cause vision loss. Every year, more than 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with glaucoma.

There are several types of glaucoma. In the early stages, the condition can often be treated successfully with eye drops or laser surgery. However, if glaucoma is not treated, vision loss can occur. This is why it’s important to have regular eye checks, even if you have no symptoms. The earlier you can detect glaucoma, the sooner you can begin treatment.

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Glaucoma is diagnosed with a simple eye exam that takes less than 10 minutes. During the eye exam, your optician will measure the pressure in your eyes, check for signs of damage to your optic nerve, and examine your peripheral vision.

The following is a list of diagnostic tests used to determine if you have glaucoma. Please see the reference section for more information on each test.

What is the test for glaucoma? The ophthalmologist will examine your eyes for signs of damage to your optic nerve. In glaucoma, you’ll have a smaller range of vision than your healthy eye will.

You will have to look through a special lens that will make the image sharper. A slit lamp will be used to examine your eyes for damage to your optic nerve.

If your eyes look normal, but the person suspects that you have glaucoma, the ophthalmologist might test for it using an optical device called a gonioscopy. Gonioscopy is done by shining a bright light into your eye, which creates a clear view of your angle.

An ophthalmologist might take photos of your retina. If damage to your optic nerve is noticed, you will be asked to return for regular visits to check on your eye.

If there is still a doubt, then the ophthalmologist might order a visual field test (often called a perimetry)

How to test for glaucoma? The main tests are:

  • The visual field test, to measure functional vision
  • The tonometer, to measure the IOP
  • The gonioscope to examine the angle
  • The ophthalmoscope to examine the optic disc
  • The optical coherence tomograph, to look at the back of the eye

It's easy to take multiple tests together as almost all these tests can be done quickly. With the above tests, the following can be diagnosed.

Visual field tests

There are many variations on the same general theme. The most common technique uses a programmed instrument (scanner) that has a pattern of light appearing at different locations of your field of vision, and you push a button each time a light flashes. The resulting chart provides a map of the locations that you detected.

Ocular tonometry

This is the measurement of the pressure in the eye. It is an important test. Once glaucoma is detected, we want to know how fast it is progressing and this requires regular measurements. Fortunately, these measurements are quick, painless and reasonably safe.

Ocular hypertension

A condition where the intraocular pressure is too high, but is not causing any symptoms. It is often a pre-glaucoma stage, as it may lead to the eventual development of glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma

A condition where the intraocular pressure is high, but with no signs of damage to the optic nerve. It is typically slow to develop, and requires regular monitoring, as vision loss may not be noticed until a later stage.

Closed-angle glaucoma

Testing for glaucoma involves taking a history of the person's glaucoma risk factors, and conducting a set of tests to check for signs of glaucoma, which may include:

  • Ocular tension
  • Evaluation of the optic nerve and visual field
  • Automated visual field tests
  • Optic nerve head photography, scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, and the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph - Fluorescein angiography
  • Retinal nerve fiber layer analysis

A full and comprehensive list of blood tests and medical tests and procedures used for diagnosis of glaucoma may be found at

A simple eye exam (like you get for your driver's license) can reveal signs of glaucoma. Tests that involve fluid also can reveal signs of glaucoma. A final way to test for glaucoma is the IOP test.

How is glaucoma tested?

This is a question that has been asked by people with glaucoma as well as by people who worry they have glaucoma but have never had a glaucoma test. The question, "Why am I being asked to have this eye test?" is a frequent concern.

Eye tests for glaucoma should be included in a comprehensive eye examination at least every two years.

In general, testing for glaucoma in your eye care practitioner's office is relatively simple and most commonly involves obtaining a pair of photographs of your eye called stereoscopic photos. These are taken with a special camera in front of an illuminated background. A normal ophthalmic technician can obtain a pair of stereoscopic photographs in less than a minute. These images are electronically transmitted to a computer, and the clinician who examines your eyes interprets the results. As is true for all clinical decision-making, human error is a possibility; however, this is often offset by using specially-trained physicians and technicians. Additionally, results can often be viewed remotely, meaning that a second opinion can often be obtained if the initial results raise questions.

If your clinician's office does not have the equipment to provide this type of test, your images may be sent to a specialty center for additional reading.

Contact lens wearers and people with colored irises should be tested with a gonioscopy.

This test is usually done as part of a dilated eye exam. For those with these factors, be sure to tell your doctor or optometrist.

A follow-up eye test is needed if you have a sudden change in vision, or other symptoms of glaucoma.

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, follow-up visits should be scheduled more frequently.

What to expect You should be seen by an eye doctor who is qualified to do comprehensive eye exams. If glaucoma is suspected, the doctor will do the following:

  • Take your medical history.
  • Ask about your family history of eye diseases.
  • Test your eye pressure.
  • Measure your eye's optical nerve.
  • Check for damage to the optic nerve and vision loss.
  • Check the blood vessels behind the retina.
  • Test to measure the amount of fluid draining out of the eye.

How do you know if you have glaucoma?

If you have glaucoma, you probably will not notice any signs or symptoms in your early stages. But glaucoma damage to your optic nerve will slowly make it difficult for you to see as well as you once did. Even worse, you will not notice these changes.

And when you do notice that something is not right, you will see the doctor. He or she will use several different tests to check the health of your optic nerve. This is called a glaucoma eye exam. A glaucoma eye exam will check your eyes to find any changes that may suggest glaucoma. In a normal eye exam, the eye doctor checks your eyes to make sure you have healthy eyes. He or she looks at your eyes and checks the amount of fluid in your eyes. In a glaucoma eye exam, he or she will also use an instrument called a tonometer to test your eyes for glaucoma. A tonometer measures the pressure inside your eyes.

He or she may also check your eyes to see if you have a problem that may increase the risk of glaucoma. You may need to have more tests to see if your eyes have glaucoma. For example, he or she may need to use special instruments to look at the front of your eye.

It is important to know that these tests are painless.

Glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages.

You may not feel any discomfort.

If you do not know whether you have glaucoma, ask your doctor if you have any of the risk factors. Your doctor may suggest you have a regular eye test.

If you know someone who has glaucoma, you should make sure you get regular eye tests.

Glaucoma Symptoms

As mentioned, glaucoma has no early warning signs, which is why it is so important to have regular eye exams to detect glaucoma in its early stages. However, some symptoms do occur when glaucoma has progressed to advanced stages and include: blurred or dim vision, "halos" around lights, peripheral vision loss, difficulty driving at night, pain or redness, eye pain or headaches, and loss of vision in one eye.

Certain symptoms can indicate a glaucoma emergency: sudden visual loss (generally occurring in one eye), rapid eye pressure increase, and rapid eye pressure increase with painful red eyes.

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), “Glaucoma is not a disease. Instead, glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness if left untreated.” In addition, according to the Eye Care Professionals of California (ECPC), “About 40% of people over 65 and about 12% of people over age 40 have some type of glaucoma.” Glaucoma can be slow to progress, and many people with glaucoma have no symptoms until the disease is advanced. In order to prevent damage, most cases of glaucoma are detected through a comprehensive eye examination by a doctor.

This means that (1) having symptoms is not synonymous with having glaucoma, (2) glaucoma can be slow to progress, (3) in order to prevent damage, glaucoma is detected through an eye examination, and (4) the procedure mentioned in the text will take effect if the symptoms are very sudden. We would like to have an automated program that reads a medical text such as this and identifies the relationships between concepts.

Glaucoma testing could discover a new symptom called 'sudden visual loss' and identify that 'rapid eye pressure increase' is an indicator of an emergency situation.


Tests IOP, or intraocular pressure, is the pressure that your eyes hold onto to. If there is too much of it, it can damage the optic nerve. Some tests that measure IOP are: Squeeze tests: These use a small contact lens attached to a machine. You lie down on the floor, and your doctor puts a contact lens on your eye. You don't feel it, and it doesn't hurt. The lens is connected to a machine that detects how much pressure you squeeze down on the lens. The lens will make a buzzing sound, and the machine will display a number. If the number is too high, you may have glaucoma. Sphygmomanometer: This is a cuff on your arm that measures your blood pressure. Your doctor will puta lens on your eye that is connected to a machine. Your doctor will put a pressure cuff on your arm that is connected to a machine. The machine will squeeze your arm until your eye is pressed into the lens. Afterwards, it will go up until you can see straight. You will be tested

Natural remedies

In addition to surgery, laser surgery, and drops, doctors have been experimenting with using low doses of certain drugs, such as beta-blockers, to treat ocular hypertension for years.


Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody, the first of its kind, that uses VEGF to treat ocular hypertension (high eye pressure) caused by glaucoma, either primary or secondary. In combination with a laser, it appears to lower intraocular pressure by widening the trabecular meshwork and other outflow tracts in the eye to allow more fluid to leave. However, its role in management of glaucoma remains limited at this time, with its main benefit being its ability to control eye pressure while the patient awaits surgery or laser treatment.

Bevacizumab is an anti-VEGF drug. It can be used as a treatment for glaucoma as it targets some of the proteins that can lead to ocular hypertension in glaucoma.

It is often used in conjunction with a laser to treat ocular hypertension. Its effectiveness as a stand alone treatment is currently unclear and is being studied.

Bevacizumab is a short term treatment which typically lasts up to 1 year. It can be repeated if necessary.

What is glaucoma testing?

Glaucoma testing consists of four different tests in order to diagnose glaucoma. Glaucoma is a progressive disease, where damage to the optic nerve is irreversible and without early treatment permanent visual loss may occur.

The first step in glaucoma testing is to measure the intraocular pressure (IOP). To measure this, a tonometer is used. The tonometer will exert a small amount of pressure into the eye in order to detect any problems. Pressure from the tonometer will normally have a measurement ranging from 8-20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The normal range for the intraocular pressure is 12-20 mmHg. Glaucoma is said to exist if the IOP is greater than 21 mmHg. This can indicate that the drainage of fluid is not sufficient or that the fluid is not flowing out efficiently, causing increased pressure.

The next step in glaucoma testing is called a gonioscopywhich is where a colored dye is placed on the cornea (the clear front part of the eye). This enables the doctor to examine the angle of the eye more closely and to see whether there are any problems such as blockage.

The third step is called a visual field test. During this test,flickering light is shone in your eyes while you move around the flickering light in different directions. The examiner then checks to see which parts of your visual field are missing or reduced in their functioning.

If the doctor suspects that you might have glaucoma, the next step would be to examine your eye pressure. There are a few methods of doing this but the one I know best is called a tonometry. During a tonometry, a puff of air is blown into the eye. This helps to push out the water and other fluids from the eye and enables the doctor totake measurements.

If your eye pressure is high, you are referred to a specialist. This specialist will examine you further and perhaps recommend further tests.

If the specialist finds a problem, then the third step of the three step process takes place. This involves a decision to be made about the best course of treatment.

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