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Five Common Glaucoma Tests

Early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma. A complete eye exam includes five common tests to detect glaucoma.

It is important to have your eyes examined regularly. Your eyes should be tested:

  • before age 40, every two to four years
  • from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
  • from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months
  • Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35.

A Comprehensive Glaucoma Exam
To be safe and accurate, five factors should be checked before making a glaucoma diagnosis:

Tonometry measures the pressure within your eye. During tonometry, eye drops are used to numb the eye. Then a doctor or technician uses a device called a tonometer to measure the inner pressure of the eye. A small amount of pressure is applied to the eye by a tiny device or by a warm puff of air.

The range for normal pressure is 12-22 mm Hg (“mm Hg” refers to millimeters of mercury, a scale used to record eye pressure). Most glaucoma cases are diagnosed with pressure exceeding 20mm Hg. However, some people can have glaucoma at pressures between 12 -22mm Hg. Eye pressure is unique to each person.

This diagnostic procedure helps the doctor examine your optic nerve for glaucoma damage. Eye drops are used to dilate the pupil so that the doctor can see through your eye to examine the shape and color of the optic nerve.

The doctor will then use a small device with a light on the end to light and magnify the optic nerve. If your intraocular pressure is not within the normal range or if the optic nerve looks unusual, your doctor may ask you to have one or two more glaucoma exams: perimetry and gonioscopy.

Perimetry is a visual field test that produces a map of your complete field of vision. This test will help a doctor determine whether your vision has been affected by glaucoma. During this test, you will be asked to look straight ahead and then indicate when a moving light passes your peripheral (or side) vision. This helps draw a “map” of your vision.

Do not be concerned if there is a delay in seeing the light as it moves in or around your blind spot. This is perfectly normal and does not necessarily mean that your field of vision is damaged. Try to relax and respond as accurately as possible during the test.

Your doctor may want you to repeat the test to see if the results are the same the next time you take it. After glaucoma has been diagnosed, visual field tests are usually done one to two times a year to check for any changes in your vision.

This diagnostic exam helps determine whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or narrow and closed. During the exam, eye drops are used to numb the eye. A hand-held contact lens is gently placed on the eye. This contact lens has a mirror that shows the doctor if the angle between the iris and cornea is closed and blocked (a possible sign of angle-closure or acute glaucoma) or wide and open (a possible sign of open-angle, chronic glaucoma).

Pachymetry is a simple, painless test to measure the thickness of your cornea — the clear window at the front of the eye. A probe called a pachymeter is gently placed on the front of the eye (the cornea) to measure its thickness. Pachymetry can help your diagnosis, because corneal thickness has the potential to influence eye pressure readings. With this measurement, your doctor can better understand your IOP reading and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. The procedure takes only about a minute to measure both eyes.

Why Are There So Many Diagnostic Exams?
Diagnosing glaucoma is not always easy, and careful evaluation of the optic nerve continues to be essential to diagnosis and treatment. The most important concern is protecting your sight. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. A second opinion is always wise if you or your doctor become concerned about your diagnosis or your progress.

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Tips for Eye Health in Adults Over 60

Women’s Higher Risk for Some Eye Diseases

Women are more likely than men to have glaucoma and women are also more likely to be visually impaired or blind due to glaucoma. Also, women are 24 percent less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Cataract is somewhat more common in women, as well. Women should be sure to follow the Academy’s screening guidelines and adhere to their Eye M.D.’s follow-up appointment recommendations and treatment plans.

Low Vision

The term low vision describes vision loss that makes daily tasks difficult. Normal aging of the eye does not lead to low vision; it is a result of eye diseases, injuries or both. Low vision symptoms nclude loss of central and/or peripheral (side) vision, blurred or hazy vision or night blindness. A person may have trouble recognizing faces, reading, driving and shopping. If you experience any of these problems, it is important to see your Eye M.D., who will check for and treat any underlying conditions and advise on low vision resources and low vision aids and devices to help with reading and other daily tasks. Most people with low vision need brighter lighting in their living areas.

Avoid Falls and Related Eye Injuries

About half of all eye injuries occur in or around the home, most often during improvement projects (44 percent). The good news is that nearly all eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear, so every household needs to have at least one pair of certified safety glasses on hand.

It’s also important to reduce the risk of falls, which become more likely as we age, due to changes in vision and balance. Consider taking these safety steps around the home to diminish the risks of injuring your eyes:

  • Make sure that rugs and shower/bath/tub mats are slip-proof.
  • Secure railings so that they are not loose.
  • Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures.

Systemic health problems

Systemic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that may be diagnosed or become more problematic in midlife can also affect eye health. One warning sign of both high blood pressure and diabetes is when the ability to see clearly changes frequently. Be sure to keep your Eye M.D. informed about your health conditions and use of medications and nutritional supplements, as well as your exercise, eating, sleeping and other lifestyle choices.


Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Regular exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and of diabetic retinopathy. Gentler exercise, including walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching and breathing, can also be effective ways to keep healthy. Remember to use sun safety and protective eyewear when enjoying sports and recreation.


As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. Also during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day.

Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.

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This Is Exactly What You Should Do If Your Contacts Get Lost In Your Eye

It is not going to roll back into your brain and kill you, promise.

One of the hardest commandments to follow as a contacts-wearer is, “Thou shalt not rub thine eyes.” Anyone who’s vigorously rubbed her peepers while wearing contacts has likely experienced one of the most terrifying situations as retribution: losing a contact in your eye.

“It’s something that can happen for a multitude of reasons,” Andrea Thau, O.D., president-elect of the American Optometric Association and spokesperson for Think About Your Eyes, an awareness campaign that promotes the importance of eye health and an annual eye exam, tells SELF. Wearing lenses that don’t fit can make them dislodge easier, but if you’re getting your lenses refitted every year by your doctor, that shouldn’t be a problem. Accidentally inserting an inside-out contact can also make it move around in your eye, and make you more likely to rub since it’ll feel uncomfortable. Thau also warns against taking off eye makeup before removing your contacts—”all the rubbing can dislodge the lens,” she explains.
Whether you cave every once in a while and rub against your better judgement, or some other fluke causes your lens to suddenly become MIA, here’s how to handle the situation like a pro.

First, stay calm. Your contact lens can’t go very far, and this won’t cause permanent damage.

It might seem like your contact just rolled behind your eye and is now swimming back toward your brain, but it’s not. That’s actually impossible. “There’s a membrane that covers the eye, called the conjunctiva,” Thau explains. “This membrane goes across the white of the eye and up and under the eyelid, creating a pouch all the way around.” This means your contact is trapped somewhere inside that pouch—there’s no way for it to move beyond it.

Next, put a few drops of saline solution in your eye.
“The moisture will help loosen up [the lens] and move it around, which makes it easer to remove,” Thau explains. Don’t flush your eye with tap water though, she warns. “If the eye is irritated, there can be [microscopic tears] and microorganisms can get into your eye,” causing an infection. Use rewetting drops, or just regular old saline solution (never ever squirt a lens solution that contains hydrogen peroxide directly into your eye).

Then, look in the opposite direction of where you think the lens is located and lift your lid.

This can be tricky, because sometimes the lens isn’t where you think you feel it, Thau explains. But do your best to assess where you think it is—it’s more likely to be under your upper lid because there’s more area and the stronger muscle is more likely to pull the lens up. For example, if you think it’s under your upper lid toward the right, lift the lid and look down and toward the left. A flashlight can help, Thau says, because typically contacts have a slight blue tint that can reflect in the light. “When you see it, gently touch it with the tip of your finger and gently drag down and pinch it out.” Never try to grab it out when it’s over the cornea (the clear part of the eye on top of the colored iris), Thau warns. “It will hurt like crazy if you scratch it.” Instead, try to drag it toward the white of the eye before you grab. Keep flushing your eye throughout to help it move easier.

If you can’t find it after a little while, try inverting your eyelid.
This means flipping your eyelid inside out, and it can be difficult to do on your own. “Look down, grab the eyelashes, and pull the lid down and out slightly,” Thau instructs. “Then, push on the crease of the eyelid with a cotton swab and flip the lid up.” It can feel really uncomfortable, so you may want to enlist someone else’s help at this point—just make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before going anywhere near your eyes. Recruiting a fellow contact-wearer is even better.

Your eye should expel the lens eventually, but if you’re still freaking out, call your eye doc.

“If it really gets tucked up there, it can be a bit of a challenge to find,” Thau says, “but usually lubricating drops help and the body wants to get it out.” Your eye will recognize there’s a foreign body in it, and secrete mucous to help push it out. Thau recommends patience. The minutes it takes for the contact to make its way toward the front where you can see it may feel like hours, but it’ll happen eventually, with or without you trying. If you’ve been flushing and tugging and inverting to no avail, and you’re starting to panic, call your eye doctor to have him or her talk you through it. If your city has an eye hospital, you can make an emergency visit there, but Thau says it’s probably not necessary. “Stay calm and focused, and you’ll be OK.”

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Here’s What Really Happens When You Sleep In Your Contact Lenses

Real talk: if you’re a regular contact lenses wearer, chances are you’ve fallen asleep in your contacts at some point in time (or maybe even a few times). We all know it’s not recommended by eye doctors, but why, exactly? What’s actually happening in your eyes when you sleep with your contacts in?

To find out, we had to get a little familiar with how daily contact wearing actually affects your body. As with any foreign object or substance that you introduce to your body, whether it be a food or a drug, contacts take some time to get used to. “The FDA actually describes contacts as a drug,” says Russell Wohl, OD, from Farmingdale, New York. “No you’re not ingesting a contact, it’s just sitting on your eye, but your body has to get acclimated to it.” Contacts can also sometimes burn or cause dryness in the eye, too. Each individual’s tears are made up of a certain pH acidity, explains Wohl, and when you put a contact into your eye, the contact solution—not the actual lens— actually has a different pH, so your eye may tear to help wash that solution out. And if you have dry eyes to begin with, lenses may only exacerbate that. “When we blink, we’re wiping tears across the cornea to help keep things uniform and clear, because when the cornea is exposed to air, it can become irritating,” explains Wohl. “Contacts need moisture once they’re removed from the solution they come packaged in, and if you already don’t have enough tears or suffer from dry eyes, lenses might only make that worse.”

When we sleep, we lose ambient oxygen exposure to the cornea, which is needed to keep the cornea healthy. We are still able to get it in other ways—like through blood vessels—but we are getting less than we do when we’re awake. “What a contact lens does is limit the oxygen even more because it creates a barrier between the oxygen and the cornea,” explains Wohl. “Some lenses—extended wear ones—allow the oxygen through though,” says Wohl, but if not enough oxygen gets through, you can experience what is called hypoxia (oxygen deprivation in a region of the body).

You also increase your chances of developing an infection, because bacteria can get onto the cornea and when your eyes are closed, there’s nothing to flush it away. “The bacteria can then become opportunistic and literally start to eat away at your cornea,” says Wohl. “Worst case scenario from that is loss of vision.” Yikes!

If you fall asleep accidentally with your lenses in for just one night, you’re unlikely to experience any serious issues. But if it becomes a more frequent habit or you’re purposefully wearing lenses overnight that aren’t mean to be, you’re upping your chance of a serious health risk. If you start to notice that your eyes are extremely red (we’re talking very bloodshot), you feel like there’s something in your eye and it’s irritated all the time, your eye lid is looking inflamed, you aren’t seeing as well as you used to, or if when you look at an indoor lamp it feels like you’re looking directly at the sun, these are signs that you could have an infection and you should see your eye doctor right away. “The good news is that most of the time it’s an acute episode that can usually be corrected by not wearing the contact lens and allowing the body to heal itself,” says Wohl. “If it’s worse, your doctor may need to give you a prescription.”

So why even take a chance? Make it a routine to take your contact lenses out every night before you go to sleep. “I’m more on the conservative side of things,” says Wohl, “so even with my extended wear patients, if it isn’t too much hassle, I recommend that everyone try to take them out every single day. If you ask me, that’s the healthiest option.”

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What Your Vision Symptoms Say About the Kind of Lenses You Need

Finding the world around you a little out of focus lately? You’re far from alone.

More than 75 percent of Americans require vision correction. And while vision symptoms can put a damper on your daily activities, they can be corrected with prescriptive eyewear in many cases. You can find brief descriptions below on some of the more common vision problems that can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. If any of these conditions describes your vision, be sure to schedule an exam with your eye doctor today.

Help may be just a pair of prescription eyewear away.

You can’t see things up close. This is a sign of farsightedness, or hyperopia. People with farsightedness can usually see objects clearly at a distance, but find it hard or impossible to focus up close. In severe cases, it takes continual effort to focus on objects at all distances. Farsightedness can interfere with reading, writing and many close-up fine-motor tasks. It can also lead to headaches, fatigue and eye strain.

Farsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contacts that use plus lenses, also known as convex lenses. Thicker at the center and thinner at the edges, these lenses are designed to bend light toward the center and move the focal point forward so that light is focused on, rather than behind, the retina.

You can’t see things at a distance. This is a sign of nearsightedness, or myopia. People with nearsightedness have trouble seeing objects at a distance. Their vision is clear up close, sometimes up to just inches or feet away. Beyond that, objects become fuzzy or out of focus. Myopia interferes with lots of day-to-day activities, like driving, taking classes, sports and even recognizing friends at a distance. It can cause serious eye strain, fatigue and headaches.

Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contacts that are concave, or thinner at the center than at the edges. They’re used to direct light away from the center of the lens and move the focal point of the light back, so that it reaches the retina.

You’re having trouble seeing small print. This is a sign of presbyopia, an age-related condition. It happens to everyone. As you reach your 40s or 50s, you may find it harder to focus on nearby objects, like book or magazine print, especially in low light. Untreated, presbyopia can lead to headaches and eye fatigue when doing close work. While farsightedness is caused by an irregularly shaped eye, presbyopia occurs when the lens of your eye becomes less flexible, even in correctly shaped eyes.

Presbyopia can be corrected with reading, bifocal or multifocal eyeglasses, or with bifocal or multifocal contact lenses. Multifocal contact lenses enable you to see both near and far in each eye. Regular contact lenses also can correct the problem through monovision where one eye has a contact lens with a prescription to see up close and the other eye has a contact lens with a prescription to see far away. Depending on the extent of the monovision, a single contact lens may be all that’s needed.

You’re having trouble focusing at any distance. This is a sign of astigmatism. People with astigmatism have blurry or distorted vision at all distances, varying depending on the strength of the astigmatism. Nearsightedness or farsightedness often accompany astigmatism. Astigmatism can interfere with daily activities that require seeing far away, like reading road signs as well as close-up activities, like reading a magazine. Untreated, astigmatism can lead to headaches, fatigue, squinting and pain in the muscles around the eye.

Astigmatism usually can be treated with eyeglasses or specially designed contact lenses, which are thicker in the middle of the lens and thinner toward the edge. Since people with astigmatism can suffer from myopia or hyperopia these specially designed lenses can also be used to correct either of those conditions.

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