A common question asked during the eye exam is, “When is the puff coming?”
Patients are referring to the air-puff or non-contact tonometry. Tonometry is the procedure used to measure eye pressure, and this is important to diagnose and monitor glaucoma. In the non-contact tonometry, a puff of air is used to measure the pressure inside the eye. The benefit of this test is there is no actual contact to the eye, but the air puff is sometimes very startling for patients. Most people hate that test and it isn’t the most accurate way to measure your eye pressure.
In our office, we don't use the air puff test. Instead, we place a yellow drop which consists of a numbing medicine and shine a blue light on the eye. This is done in front of the slit lamp and a small tip gently touches the eye to measure the eye pressure. This procedure is the Goldmann tonometry; this is considered the gold standard for measuring eye pressure.
Another method for checking eye pressure in our office is the Tonopen. This is a portable hand-held instrument which is useful when patients can’t sit in front of the slit lamp to have their eye pressure checked. The Tonopen also requires a numbing drop to be placed in the eye, and the tip gently touches the eye.
Another common question is what normal eye pressure is; normal eye pressure ranges from 10-21 mm Hg. Eye pressure doesn't have any relationship to blood pressure. Many times, people are surprised that their eye pressure is high, but they have normal blood pressure. In general, there is no diet or exercise that will significantly affect eye pressure. It is therefore important to have your eye pressure checked regularly because there are usually no symptoms of high eye pressure until it has affected your vision.
For More on Glaucoma see our other Glaucoma blogs here.