At some point your optometrist will want to measure your pressures.
This can cause some discomfort as it means using an instrument (a tonometer) to touch the sensitive front of your eye. Depending on the type of tonometry favoured by your optometrist yellow anaesthetic drops may be inserted into your eyes so you won’t feel anything.
If you can relax and open your eyes wide any irritation is greatly reduced. ‘Squinting’ and excessive blinking makes the test take longer, feel more uncomfortable and more likely to need repeating. Focusing on your breathing and thinking pleasant thoughts really will reduce your anxiety and hence any discomfort.
Any perceived discomfort is far worse than the reality and the memory of it lasts longer than the test itself.
The ‘pressure’ being measured is your Intra Ocular Pressure (IOP) which if higher than normal suggests to your Optometrist that you need referral for further tests to assess if you have ‘glaucoma‘.
Glaucoma maybe Acute or Chronic–
- Acute as the name suggests comes on suddenly and usually causes a lot of pain and blurred vision so it is relatively easy to know that something is wrong and to know that you need urgent attention.
- Chronic glaucoma develops very gradually and does not cause any visual problems till it is quite advanced, which is why it needs to be routinely checked for. If picked up early it can usually be controlled by the regular use of specific eyedrops.
If you are over 40 and have a close relative (sibling, child or parent) who has glaucoma you may be at greater risk of developing the disease so you need regular monitoring – whether or not you think your vision has changed. You can claim your ‘free’ NHS sight test by telling your optometrist that you have a close relative with glaucoma and signing a GOS ST form.