Eye Health

Updated 25 July 2018

Diagnosing glaucoma

Early detection is essential to preserve your sight and diagnosis is the first step.

The diagnosis of glaucoma depends on the meeting of certain criteria. 

These should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist through the following process: 

  • Thorough history-taking
  • Eye examination 
  • Appropriate investigations and tests

The investigations and tests are preformed routinely at the initial checkup.

These require careful cooperation and include:

  • Tonometry, which measures the intraocular pressure
  • Gonioscopy, a procedure in which a lens and slit lamp or microscope is used to view the anterior chamber angle of the eye
  • Pachymetry, which measures the thickness of the front portion of the eye
  • Perimetry, which is used to assess the peripheral vision for damage
  • Imaging, which detects early signs of damage to the optic disc

Many of the patients seen by ophthalmologists in South Africa are referred by general practitioners or optometrists. Early diagnosis is therefore often dependent on the prompt referral of individuals suspected to have the condition. 

You can play an important role in early detection, too. Seek help early if you experience eye problems or if you have significant risk factors related to the condition.

Reviewed by ophthalmologist Dr Tshilidzi van der Lecq. MBChB (UCT), Mmed (Ophth), FC Ophth (SA). March 2018.


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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