Back in April, I had an eye exam. It was one of the more thorough ones I’ve undergone since becoming eligible for optical care at the VA, and I spent at least an hour with the doctor who did the exam.
This exam included a pressure test. Basically, the eyeballs are numbed, then they’re tapped with a little machine that measures the pressure in the eyeball. Eyeball pressure is an indicator of the possibility of glaucoma, and the pressure in both eyeballs was high—which isn’t good. On further examination, she also discovered pigment from my irises had been scraped off by the tiny filaments on the back of the lens, which also seemed to be an indicator of the possibility of glaucoma forming later on.
They had me come back in a few weeks ago for a baseline glaucoma test and a further eye exam. The glaucoma test is pretty simple, if a bit uncomfortable. It involves the use of a machine that flashes lights in the patient’s peripheral vision. The patient sits close to the machine, which is shaped like a hollowed-out box with a computer incorporated into it, and props their chin on a chin rest facing into the hollowed-out portion of the box, and holds a little remote to click the button on when they see a flash of light anywhere in the machine. The examining doctor uses the computer to make the flashes.
The first part of the test for each eye involved me staring straight ahead at a steady light so the doctor could get a measurement. I can’t remember of what, but this step was absolutely necessary. I had to stare straight ahead through a lens that corrected my vision for my eye, and not blink. This didn’t take too long, though. Following this part of the test, the flashes began. Each time I saw one, I clicked the little remote. If I remember correctly, the doctor’s advice was for me to click the little remote even if I wasn’t sure I’d seen a flash.
This part of the exam took at least twenty minutes. About halfway through, I started hallucinating a green haze filling the box, and my left eye dried out. The right eye went much better; I blinked more often, so my eye didn’t get so uncomfortable.
When I finished the baseline glaucoma test, we went back to the exam room and she performed another eye exam. A pressure test was done again, then they put special lubricating eye drops in and placed an exam magnifying glass directly on my eye ball. This sounds uncomfortable, but it was actually one of the most comfortable parts of any eye exam I’ve ever had. The lubrication made my eyes feel fantastic. In this exam, they discovered more flakes of the pigment from my iris collected in the groove where the lens sits in my eye, which is apparently another indicator of possible glaucoma.
Still, even with all these indicators, they need another glaucoma test with the box. The one I’ve already undergone was a baseline, so they have something to compare the second test to, in order to determine whether the results from the first test were simply because I was undergoing an uncomfortable new type of eye exam, or the results from the first test were accurate.