Glaucoma Care & Diagnostic Testing in Colorado Springs, CO

Our Services offered — Vision Exams In Colorado, CO
thin-arrowheads-pointing-down

Glaucoma Screening

At our offices, we are very careful in monitoring our patient’s vision and eye health. Glaucoma is an eye disease that can have a major and long-term impact on a patient's vision. Fortunately, there are warning signs for glaucoma that we can catch in a comprehensive exam. Dr. Roark, our main optometrist and business owner, is very experienced with glaucoma diagnosis and treatment. There are multiple ways we test for glaucoma in our eye exams.

Intraocular Pressure (IOP)

Intraocular pressure, or IOP, is a very important factor in glaucoma diagnosis and is something we measure at most of our eye exams and medical visits. For different underlying causes, IOP can become elevated in one or both of a patient's eyes. This increased IOP can quickly or slowly result in damage to the optic nerve. For this reason, monitoring IOP is very important. One of the quickest and easiest ways to measure IOP is the non-contact tonometer. The non-contact tonometer is commonly known as the “air puff machine.” We have advanced computerized machines that use less air than many older models and that have measures in place to help get an accurate measurement the first time. At our clinics our optometric technicians use these machines to test intraocular pressure as part of the screening process before a patient sees the eye doctor.

For some patients, the “air puff machine” is not a good option. We don’t usually attempt to “puff” children under ten or eleven years of age, and some adults are opposed to or are unsuccessful with the non-contact tonometer. In these cases, the doctor has other methods of testing IOP, especially if the patient is at risk for glaucoma. Goldmann Applanation Tonometry (GAT), also known as blue light tonometry, is another method that our optometrists may use to test intraocular pressure. When conducting GAT our optometrist will first use eyedrops to numb the eye and then will gently touch the eye with medical equipment that measures the intraocular pressure. This method is even more accurate and useful for glaucoma diagnosis than non-contact tonometry but does take a little more time.

Retinal Examination and Imaging

A key part of glaucoma diagnosis is the examination of the optic disc. The optic disc is the place where the optic nerve enters the eye and is located on the retina, the back surface of the eye. An inspection of the optic disc is conducted at every comprehensive eye exam at our offices. A slit lamp exam is part of most vision appointments because it allows the eye doctor to examine both the optic disc and the retina. We also have a retinal camera available that can be used to take pictures of the retina and optic disc. These pictures will be stored in our electronic health records system that our optometrists can access at any location.

Dilating the eyes allows the optometrist to get a better view of the retina and the optic disc. Not every eye appointment has to include a dilated fundus exam. The optometrists at our office can often get a good view of the optic disc and retina without dilating their patient. At your appointment, the eye doctor will discuss whether or not dilation is recommended for you.


Optic disc examinations and checking intraocular pressure are ways we check patients for glaucoma at their yearly eye exam. If a patient displays signs of glaucoma we also have testing procedures available to diagnose whether or not a patient has glaucoma. so that our optometrists can know whether or not glaucoma treatment is appropriate for the patient
 

Glaucoma Diagnosis Equipment

If one of our optometrists notice symptoms of glaucoma or see that patients are at risk for glaucoma, our offices here in Colorado Springs have advanced diagnostic equipment available. This equipment is generally not used in regular eye exams but is used when an eye doctor decides it is necessary. These testing procedures are also used on an ongoing basis to monitor the glaucoma of patients who are undergoing treatment for it.

Scanning Laser Polarimetry

At Eagle Eyes South and Citadel Vision center we have a GDx VCC machine available at different weeks throughout the month. GDx VCC stands for glaucoma diagnosis with variable corneal compensation. The GDx machine uses a method called scanning laser polarimetry to create a 3D image of the retinal nerve fiber layer. Damage to these nerves is one of the symptoms of glaucoma and one of the causes of vision loss. This machine has special technology in place to take measurements of an individual’s cornea and compensate for any distortions the cornea might cause to achieve a high quality and accurate image.

The GDx VCC grants information about the health of the nerves around the optic disc that an eye doctor can review to gain useful insight into whether or not a patient has glaucoma or is at risk of developing glaucoma. The GDx VCC is especially useful because in some cases it can detect signs of glaucoma before noticeable vision loss has occurred. The optometrist who conducts the patient’s eye exam will discuss whether or not this testing is recommended for the patient.

This testing is valuable for tracking the development of glaucoma in patients who are receiving glaucoma treatment.

Visual Fields Analyzer

One of the noticeable and severe symptoms of glaucoma is vision loss, usually starting at the edges of a patient's vision. It can progress until a patient has “tunnel vision.” With proper treatment, this progression can be slowed and often significant vision loss can be prevented. At all three of our offices, we have visual field machines that accurately test and record a patient’s field of vision.

During a visual fields test, one of the patient's eyes is covered and the patient places their other eye in front of the visual fields machine. The machine will display points of light of various intensity in different parts of the patient's field of vision. The patient focuses on a clearly marked central point and presses a button when they can see the dot of light in their peripheral vision. By testing various intensities of light in all the different areas of vision the visual fields analyzer creates a detailed profile of the patient’s vision.

We keep a physical copy of this data and also upload a copy onto our electronic health records system so that it can be reviewed at any time and at any office. Visual fields testing is covered by health insurance when it is relevant and is important in glaucoma diagnosis since it tests the progression of a glaucoma symptom that directly impacts the patient's vision.

This testing equipment is used to diagnose glaucoma and to monitor patients who do have glaucoma. If a patient does have glaucoma, our office is equipped to care for them with non-surgical procedures. Dr. Roark enjoys providing care to patients with glaucoma and has been protecting the sight of many different glaucoma patients for years.
 

Glaucoma Treatment

There are different types of glaucoma with different treatment strategies. For general information about glaucoma or to learn about the different types of glaucoma feel free to visit the National Eye Institutes page on glaucoma (https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma)
For some types of glaucoma, surgical procedures are necessary. In these cases, our optometrists will refer the patient to the right ophthalmologist for that patient’s needs and insurance.
In the most cases of glaucoma we can provide glaucoma treatment ourselves.

Treatment
The treatments for glaucoma all have the purpose of lowering the pressure inside a patient’s eye. In different types of glaucoma there are different factors resulting in an elevated IOP. The increased IOP is what then causes damage to the optic disc.
If glaucoma or the risk for glaucoma is noticed early, medications that lower the pressure inside the eye can be very successful in slowing the development of glaucoma. Glaucoma treatment can help patients before they experience vision loss.
The most common medications for glaucoma are eye drops that reduce pressure in the eyes. Our eye doctors are very familiar with prescribing these medications and in monitoring the side effects of these drops.

Vision Monitoring
It is very important to monitor glaucoma very closely because once vision loss has occurred it cannot be restored. In addition to the many exam techniques available to our optometrists we have some advanced diagnostic equipment especially useful for treating glaucoma patients. The GDx VCC uses scanning laser polarimetry to track changes in the retinal nerve fiber layer. The visual fields analyzer detects vision loss by testing the patient’s light perception in different parts of the patient’s retina. Click here for more information about our glaucoma diagnostic equipment.
Usually we will conduct one of these diagnostic tests and a full eye exam at one visit and schedule the other test for six months later. In this way our optometrists can monitor the patient’s eye health every six months and track any changes with diagnostic testing from year to year.

Referrals
In some cases a patient’s glaucoma may require a different treatment than we provide, or there may be other factors complicating a patient’s eye health. In these cases our office is happy to provide referrals to the appropriate ophthalmologist. These referrals are often required by the patient’s insurance and are frequently requested or required by the ophthalmologist. The information gathered by an optometrist at an eye exam is a valuable starting point for an ophthalmologist beginning specialized care.