How to test for glaucoma: The three tests

Glaucoma  is usually painless and does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced. It is therefore important to have regular eye health checks which test for glaucoma at an early stage. There are three eye tests that are used to check for glaucoma.

These eye tests for glaucoma are quick and painless.

  1. Looking at the appearance of the main nerve in the eye, called the optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy)
  2. Measuring the pressure in the eye (tonometry)
  3. Checking the field of vision (perimetry)

When you have an eye health check the optometrist must, by law, examine the back of your eye. This will include looking at your optic nerve. It is also recommended that everyone who is considered to be at risk of glaucoma (such as those people who are over the age of forty) have their eye pressure measured.

This is often done by a piece of equipment which gently blows a puff of air at your eye. If the results of either of these tests are inconclusive, your optometrist may also ask you to do a field of vision test to make sure everything is normal.

Cost of the eye tests for glaucoma

A combination of all three tests has been shown to increase the likelihood of detecting primary open angle glaucoma. If your optician is not able to perform all three tests, then find one who is. However, the optometrist can make an additional charge for carrying out tonometry and perimetry even if the rest of the test is paid for by the NHS, so it is always worth checking this when arranging an eye test.

Free NHS funded eye tests if you are:

  • Over the age of 60

  • Under 16 or under 19 in full-time education

  • Living in Scotland

  • Receiving income support, certain benefits including pension credit. More information www.nhs.uk

  • Diabetic or have glaucoma

  • Over 40 and havea close relative with glaucoma

  • Advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma

  • Registered as visually impaired

  • Receiving vouchers for complex lenses

  • A prisoner or on leave from prison