There is no simple screening test for glaucoma. Glaucoma NZ recommends the “45 + 5 glaucoma eye examination”. People who have no symptoms of eye problems should have an examination for glaucoma by the time they are 45. If the examination is normal we recommend it be repeated every 5 years.
The emphasis is on detecting the risk factors for glaucoma and assessing the optic disc to decide the possibility of early glaucoma being present. If the optic disc is very healthy and there are no risk factors present, then a 5 yearly examination is appropriate. If a number of risk factors are identified, for example a family history, a borderline eye pressure and a suspicious optic disc then routine examination should be more frequent.
We have come a long way from when measuring the eye pressure was considered an adequate glaucoma test. Eye pressure is a very important risk factor but it is useless as a screening tool. A visual field test is very important also but again used indiscriminately or alone it is not best eye care. What Glaucoma NZ recommends for you is an accurate assessment of the risk factors that lead to glaucoma and careful assessment of the optic disc where glaucoma does its damage to your eyesight.
Glaucoma NZ does not want to impose on our community unnecessary testing for glaucoma. What Glaucoma NZ does want to happen in our community is that all adults have an initial examination at or before 45 years of age - an examination that will have a careful assessment of the risk factors for glaucoma and the possibility of early optic disc damage from glaucoma. This assessment should be done every five years.
What should you expect at a routine glaucoma eye examination?