Q: I know I am overdue for my eye exam, but I just hate that air puff and those dilation eye drops! What can I do?
A: We have really good news for you! But first, let me tell you that your concerns are not at all unusual. Many people hate that “air puff” test for glaucoma, and virtually everyone dislikes having their eyes dilated You have lots of company.
The good news is that today, our practice and most offices ( I think ) have embraced newer technology that makes the air puff test obsolete. Not just obsolete, but in fact we have newer hand held instruments to measure your internal eye pressure more accurately……and without any surprise or discomfort. It is still true that measuring your eye pressure is essential in diagnosing and preventing vision loss from glaucoma. Every comprehensive eye exam must include that diagnostic information. I find most patients are surprised to learn that elevated eye pressure gives absolutely no symptoms. To be clear…..even if your eye pressure is too high, and damaging your optic nerve, you will not feel pressure or discomfort or even see any change in vision. Elevated pressure and glaucoma are truly silent…..but very treatable with eye medications.
As for dilation drops, more good news. Yes, we do still use those drops to enlarge your pupils when we evaluate or treat certain eye diseases. But for more people being seen for a “routine” eye exam, we now use retinal imaging instead of dilation drops. This new technology can show us a very full view of the entire interior of your eyes, and in fact, can give us imaging through the nerve layers in the back of your eyes! This aspect actually means we generally prefer this imaging over the older dilation / bright light methods. This system even allows us to show you, our patient, the inside of your own eyes! Most people find this helpful to understand what we are seeing and describing.
As an eye specialist, I find that most patients truly like to learn more about their eyes and vision. These technologies allow us to not only better diagnose eye disorders, but also to teach our patients about their eyes. Today, your next comprehensive eye exam should be totally a pleasant experience….enjoyable, in fact. And as we always “preach”, please do not put off your eye exam as most problems can be controlled and treated….if…..caught early!