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Focus on: Glaucoma

Podcast—How is glaucoma detected?

M: Vision lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be restored, which is why early detection is so important. The only way to detect glaucoma is for an eye care professional to examine a person’s optic nerve located at the back of their eye during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Dr. James Tsai, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at Yale University School of Medicine and a member of the National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee explains further.

Dr. Tsai: Previously glaucoma was thought to be a disease of elevated eye pressure. We now know that it is a much more complex disease. It is a disease where intraocular pressure certainly is a risk factor but you can have glaucoma with a normal level of intraocular pressure reading. The critical detection of glaucoma involves the examination of the optic nerve and the extent of damage to the optic nerve. Then went you take into account the intraocular pressure, the pressure reading and you confirm the damage to the optic nerve with damage on the visual field test then a diagnosis of glaucoma is made.

M: In a comprehensive dilated eye exam drops are placed into the patient’s eyes to widen or dilate the pupils. The eye care professional then uses a special magnifying lens to exam the retina and optic nerve for signs of damage or other eye problems. The doctor may also check eye pressure and measure the thickness of the cornea or front of the eye. After the exam the patient’s vision may be blurred for several hours until the effect of the dilating drops wears off. For more information about dilated eye exams and detecting glaucoma visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma. For the National Eye Institute this has been a focus on glaucoma.

[End of Recording.]