If you have ever experienced the dreaded “air puff” test at the eye doctor’s office, I’m guessing that it left an impression on you. Like feeling shocked to your core! Not a day goes by in our office without at least one patient asking in serious trepidation: “When are you going to blow air into my eye??”. An unfortunate consequence of this test is that many patients hate it so much that they put off going to the eye doctor at all.
So are eye doctors just competing for the world record for the distance a patient jumps out of their chair? Or is there a reason for the shock treatment? The air puff test is also known as non-contact tonometry. Tonometry is the measurement of the pressure inside the eye and is an integral part of a comprehensive eye examination. Measuring eye pressure is important for screening and monitoring of glaucoma. At Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry, we have never used non-contact tonometry as our method for measuring eye pressure in our 50-year history. The reason for this is not just that patients hate it. The standard of care method for measuring eye pressure is Goldmann tonometry. This is especially true for patients who are at greater risk for glaucoma or who have been diagnosed with glaucoma. Goldmann tonometry is a more accurate method and even more so when eye pressure is higher, such as is the case with many glaucoma patients.
The good news for patients is that the large majority of patients find the Goldmann tonometry method much less bothersome. In some screening situations, we may use hand-held tonometry devices, such as the iCare or Tonopen. These methods are even less likely to be unpopular with patients. So don’t let your fear of “the puff” keep you from getting your regular eye exams at Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry.
So now you can relax and stop worrying about “when is the puff coming??”. Or the even worse: the look of pity and empathy from the technician as she says: “You blinked. We’re going to need to do that again.”
Glaucoma is a serious and potentially sight-threatening disease. There are many factors that affect your risk of developing glaucoma. These include eye pressure, family history, race, optic nerve appearance, refractive state (your eyeglasses prescription), age, and more. The doctors at Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry have a long and extensive history of managing glaucoma. If you have any questions regarding the eye pressure test, your eye pressure, or your risk for developing glaucoma, our doctors are more than happy to discuss this thoroughly with you at your next eye examination appointment.