If you are over 40 years old, the College of Optometrists recommends that you get checked to make sure you are not developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is a serious condition that is much better treated if you catch it early, which your optometrist can help you do. Otherwise, you will not normally notice any signs of the problem until some sight has already been lost.
There are three main types of testing that may be carried out by an optometrist:
- Ophthalmoscopy – looking inside your eye to check what the optic disc, where the optic nerve joins the eye, looks like. This is done using an ophthalmoscope, a special torch for looking into the eyes.
- Measuring the pressure inside your eye (tonometry). This may be done with an instrument that sends a small puff of air onto the surface of the eye (non-contact tonometry) – the puff of air may make you jump a bit, but it will not hurt. Or the optometrist may place an instrument called a direct contact tonometer gently against the eye – if they do this test, they will use drops to numb your eyes first, so you will not feel anything.
- Checking your visual fields to make sure you don’t have have any abnormal blind spots. Read our advice on visual field tests.
Other instruments are now available for detecting and monitoring glaucoma but these are the most commonly used tests.