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Understanding Tonometry: The Eye Pressure Test

Gina Walters


eye pressure test

Regular eye exams are very important when it comes to our vision and eye health. 

However, an eye pressure test is one of the major parts of these exams.

Eye pressure tests may help detect serious eye conditions like Glaucoma early and prevent vision loss. 

But what exactly is an eye pressure test, why is it important, and how is it performed? 

Let us explore the answers to the above questions and what to expect during the eye examination.

What is eye pressure test

An eye pressure test, also known as Tonometry, is used to measure the Intraocular Pressure (IOP) in one’s eyes. 

Intraocular Pressure refers to the fluid pressure inside the eye and is important for maintaining eye health.

However, an increase in IOP can increase one’s risk of Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can harm the optic nerve and cause vision problems. 

Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common type of Glaucoma and develops without noticeable symptoms. 

Therefore, regular Glaucoma tests like Tonometry are important to detect one’s risk of developing Glaucoma.

Consult an eye doctor, as early diagnosis and treatment can help avoid Glaucoma vision loss.

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How does eye pressure test work

Eye-Pressure-Test-Source: Simplefoo
Young optometrist measuring eye pressure

Tonometry is a quick and painless eye test. 

The common types of Tonometry methods are Applanation Tonometry, Non-Contact Tonometer, and Electronic Indentation Tonometry.

Let us discuss the methods in detail:

  • Goldmann Applanation Tonometry: The doctor will start the test by using eye-numbing drops. After that, the doctor will use a Tonometer (a medical device) to apply pressure and flatten the cornea gently. The amount of pressure applied is directly related to one’s IOP and will measure the eye pressure. Applanation Tonometry is the most used method, as it provides highly accurate results.
  • Non-Contact Tonometry (Air-Puff Tonometer): The method is suitable for people who are uncomfortable with the Applanation Tonometry method. The doctor will use a machine to blow a small burst of air onto one’s eye surface. The machine measures the eye’s resistance to the air puff and estimates IOP.
  • Electronic Indentation Tonometry: The method uses a device called the Tono-Pen. It is a handheld device that provides a digital reading of IOP by touching the eye’s surface. 

Depending on the equipment available at the eye clinic and patient preference, the doctor may use any method to measure the IOP.

However, a person’s eye pressure may depend on various factors like age, blood pressure, cornea thickness, and more. 

The doctor will recommend your eye test schedule based on the above factors and overall eye health.

Understand the normal range of eye pressure with our article: Understanding Eye Pressure Range: Normal, High, and Low

Do not try to measure eye pressure at home, as it is dangerous and ineffective.

What does eye pressure test show

Tonometry (eye pressure test) shows a person’s Intraocular Pressure level.

A study states that normal IOP falls between 10-20 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). 

A normal range Tonometry result suggests that the eye’s fluid pressure is in a healthy state.

However, an increase or decrease in the IOP levels may cause some eye problems like Glaucoma, Ocular Hypertension, and more.

High eye pressure is one of the major Glaucoma causes and damages the optic nerve. 

A person may have Ocular Hypertension if their eye pressure is high, but the optic nerve is normal.

On the other hand, low eye pressure can cause eye trauma or inflammation and lead to Ocular Hypotony.

Tonometry results help doctors examine one’s eye health and decide on proper treatment. 

The doctors may recommend regular eye tests if they notice high or low eye pressure in one’s Tonometry results.

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Key takeaways

An eye pressure test, also known as Tonometry, is an important part of a complete eye examination and helps measure Intraocular Pressure. 

The common methods of Tonometry include Applanation Tonometry, Non-Contact Tonometer, and Electronic Indentation Tonometry.

The doctor may use any one Tonometry method and suggest proper treatment according to one’s eye results.

The normal IOP falls between 10-20 mm Hg and is important for maintaining healthy eyes. 

However, an increase or decrease in the IOP levels may lead to vision problems.

Get regular eye tests and consult a doctor for early detection and treatment of the eye problems. 

Know the various ways to lower your eye pressure with our article: How to Lower Eye Pressure and Improve Your Vision

Frequently Asked Question

Can I do an eye pressure test at home?

No, a person cannot perform an accurate eye pressure test at home. Tonometry requires special medical equipment and an experienced eye doctor to measure one’s Intraocular Pressure. A proper eye pressure test may help measure accurate IOP level and eye health.

Why do I need an eye pressure test?

An eye pressure test is important to check one’s eye health and detect vision problems early. An increase or decrease in one’s IOP levels may lead to eye problems like Glaucoma, Ocular Hypotony, and more. Detecting these eye problems may help prevent eye problems with proper and timely treatment.

Can I drive after my eye pressure test?

No, one should not drive after an eye pressure test. Normally, the test does not dilate pupils or damage vision. However, one may experience discomfort or blurred vision due to eye-numbing drops. It is best to wait till one’s vision returns to normal.

Are there any side effects of the eye pressure test?

No, there are no side effects of an eye pressure test. Tonometry is a safe, quick, and painless eye test.

Can a doctor diagnose a patient with Glaucoma with just Tonometry?

No, a doctor cannot diagnose Glaucoma with just Tonometry. Tonometry measures Intraocular Pressure, and high IOP may increase one’s risk of Glaucoma. However, high IOP may not always lead to Glaucoma. The doctor may suggest other Glaucoma tests like Pachymetry, Perimetry, and more to diagnose the condition properly.

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