Diagnosing Glaucoma: Conclusions

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma represents a number of disease states all of which are defined by death of optic nerve cells. The most common cause of optic nerve cell death is elevated eye pressure. However, nearly 25% of patients diagnosed with glaucoma do not show evidence of elevated eye pressure.

How do you test for Glaucoma?

Accurately diagnosing glaucoma involves measurement of eye pressure on numerous days, at various times during the day. Additionally, the optic nerve must be imaged with standard photography or more recently developed scanning-laser cameras. Measurement of optic nerve function in a given individual can be obtained by performing “visual field” testing. Finally, measurement of corneal thickness is rapidly becoming incorporated into the work-up of all patients who are at risk for the development of glaucoma.

The results of all of the above tests are required to properly evaluate an individual at risk for developing glaucoma. Additionally, many of these tests are repeated at least annually to track the health of the optic nerve over time. No single test alone can diagnose glaucoma. Timely diagnosis can be made only after careful evaluation of the above measurements in conjunction with the physician’s clinical judgment.

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