What test can I expect from a glaucoma consultation?

When you come for a glaucoma consultation, particularly the first one, there are quite a few tests that you have to have. All of them are painless and they take less than five minutes each. We will check your vision when you come to see us. We will also check the thickness of the wall of the eye and that’s important, because just as we all come tall and short eyeballs come in different widths.

And the width of the eyeball is important when we’re really assessing what the pressure in your eye means for you. Then we’ll go on to check the pressure the most accurate way that there is and we do that using some blue light having put some local anaesthetic in your eye.

So it’s different to the test that you have at the opticians where they do the air puff and blow air into your eye. The test that we do at Clinica London is the best test for pressure and it is the most accurate and it’s used worldwide in glaucoma clinics. You will also have a structural scan of the nerve at the back of your eye. Remember that glaucoma is a condition that damages that nerve, so scanning the nerve gives us a picture that we will keep forever and we can use that as our benchmark for future tests when you come back, to assess whether things have changed or not. This scan is called an OCT scan and has revolutionised the management of glaucoma. And it’s really important that we do that test accurately and on each subsequent visit that you come. The last test you have in a glaucoma consultation is something called a Humphrey visual field test.

Now glaucoma affects the peripheral vision first, but the time it affects the central vision so that you can’t read the letter chart anymore, it’s too late to do anything about it. So the visual field test tests how well you perceive light around the outside of your vision. And that test takes about five minutes per eye.

We put you in a light bowl and we shine light at various points around the outside of the eye and you have to press a button every time you see a light. And at the end of the five-minute test we have a really good picture of what the function of your vision is around the outside of your vision.

We usually do that test once or twice a year.

You’ll also have a series of drops when you come for a glaucoma consultation so it’s important that you don’t drive to the next appointments. Because when we put the drops in to dilate your pupils, it takes a couple of hours for those to wear off so that you can drive safely. The whole test at consultation takes about half an hour to 40 minutes for your first appointment and subsequent appointments are usually about twenty to twenty-five minutes.

More about Laura Crawley

Ms Laura Crawley is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Clinica London, Imperial College Western Eye Hospital, and The London Clinic. Her special expertise is in treating glaucoma patients as well as patients with glaucoma and cataracts. She has a lot of experience in treating glaucoma and has published extensively in scientific journals and on medical education. She still does a lot of emergency operations at the emergency department at the Charing Cross and Western Eye Hospitals for the NHS. At Clinica London, she is responsible for glaucoma patients and glaucoma patients with cataracts. She also sees patients with general eye problems.