Why You Need That Puff Of Air Test At The Eye Doctor's

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 08/21/2017

older-woman-getting-glaucoma-air-pressure-testThe puff of air test is temporarily uncomfortable, yet it serves an important purpose. Sometimes referred to as the “puffer test,” applying a brief burst of air into the eyes tests intraocular pressure within the eyeball.

Although this test may be unpleasant to some, it is incredibly important. A particularly high intraocular pressure rating is a sign the patient might be pre-glaucomic or have glaucoma, a serious eye disease.

What Is The Puff Of Air Test For?

This test is a component of the typical comprehensive eye exam. You simply rest your chin on the rubber/cushioned section of a diagnostic machine referred to as a slit lamp. You look at the light within the machine.

The eye doctor or assistant sends a puff of air across the surface of your eyes to measure intraocular pressure. A device, referred to as a tonometer, gauges the eyes' resistance to this puff of air and determines the internal eye pressure.

This test is performed quite quickly and involves minimal discomfort. Try to focus on keeping your eyes wide open until the air is puffed. Your eyes might water a bit but you won't feel any pain. The machine does not make any sort of contact with your eyes so don't panic! The puff of air test is actually quite tame compared to other tonometry tests that make use of a probe or plunger to lightly push and flatten the cornea to measure pressure. A slight puff of air doesn't seem so bad, now does it?

Why Is The Puff Of Air Test Important?

If the pressure is around 21 or higher, it is considered to be elevated. Elevated eye pressure is an indication that the patient might have glaucoma. This is an eye disease that harms the optic nerve. The problem with high eye pressure is that the sensitive nerve fibers toward the back of the eye have the potential to be damaged to the point that vision is lost.

Elevated eye pressure is especially dangerous is it usually shows few, if any, symptoms or pain.

So don't request to opt out of the puff of air test simply because it is uncomfortable! This is a vitally important test that can reveal the presence of glaucoma or the potential onset of glaucoma.

Glaucoma can be treated with specialized eye drops and/or surgery. However, glaucoma symptoms sometimes don't manifest until the patient's vision is already impaired.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. This is precisely why it is vitally important to have the puff of air test conducted at least once every year at a bare minimum. This simple test really does have the potential to save your vision.

Learn more about how you can protect your eyes from glaucoma. Download our FREE infographic below.

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