Technology at Rawlings – No air-puff pressure checks for glaucoma

Posted: Friday 1st March 2019

Here at Rawlings we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest advances in ophthalmic equipment. We were one of the first groups to solely use ‘no-puff’ instruments for checking eye pressures. Testing the eye pressure is important in adults as high eye pressures are one of the main risk factors for developing the eye disease, glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a complicated condition which actually should be called ‘the glaucomas’ as there are many different sub-groups of the disease. Essentially it is a neurodegenerative disease whereby the optic nerve, which is comprised of over a million nerve fibres in each eye, begins to lose nerve fibres at an accelerated rate. This can ultimately cause blindness if not treated. There are many risk factors for glaucoma, with family history and eye pressure being two of the most important. This is why we test adults’ eye pressure each time they come for an eye examination. Approximately 1 person in 50 over the age of 40 has glaucoma, and up to 1 in 10 over the age of 80 but many of these are undiagnosed until there is significant visual loss.

The equipment used to measure eye pressure is called a tonometer. The very earliest tonometers involved the patient lying down, and weights being rested on the open eyes – unpleasant for the patient and not without risks! The air-puff tonometers were a huge step forward in tonometer technology but many people found this technique unpleasant and some people would actually avoid having their eyes tested as they disliked the stress caused by waiting so intensely for the dreaded ‘BANG!’ from the machine. In addition, as if that wasn’t bad enough, several readings had to be taken to get an average as the pressure in your eyes varies with the cycle of your heartbeat so one reading is not enough. Some air puffs require 3 readings per eye – but some up to 5.

Because we knew how much patients hated the anxiety-inducing ‘bang!’ from the old air puff instruments, when we came across the gentler ICare tonometers (which were originally developed in Finland) that hardly cause so much as a blink, we knew we had to invest in this. With this new instrumentation all you hear are some digital beeps to indicate the readings being taken, and you may feel a tickling sensation on your eyelashes. No more nasty puffs or bangs to worry about when you come to have an eye examination here!

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