Glaucoma patients could carry out key tests at home, Scottish study finds

Glaucoma patients needing to test pressure levels inside the eye could do these tests at home rather than at hospitals or optometrists, a study has found.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:55 am

Carried out by researchers at Edinburgh University, the study was funded by Sight Scotland and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Eye pressure measurements can currently only be taken using specialist equipment in optometry or hospital clinics.

The study found home monitoring could increase the number of pressure measurements, as there is no restriction on day or time for testing. This can give a better indication of when IOP levels are high and whether treatments are working.

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Eddie McKay was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2007.
Eddie McKay was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2007.

Glaucoma is caused by a a build-up of fluid inside the eye, which in turn causes a build-up of pressure.

This damages the optic nerve connecting the eye and brain, which in turn causes gradual and irreversible vision loss.

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr Andrew Tatham, who led the research at Edinburgh University, said: “The treatment of glaucoma depends on using eye drops, laser, or surgery to lower pressure inside the eye. Traditionally it was only possible to measure eye pressure in the clinic, for example using an air-puff machine.

"This meant we would normally need to make important treatment decisions based on one or two measurements per year.

"Like blood pressure, eye pressure fluctuates, so having only a few measurements can make it difficult to know what level of pressure has caused damage to the eye, and whether treatment has successfully lowered eye pressure.

"Thanks to the funding from Sight Scotland, our research has shown that it is now possible for patients to measure their own eye pressure accurately at home.”

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He added: “It has the potential to reduce sight loss from glaucoma, reduce the number of hospital visits needed, and give patients more control over their disease."

Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans said: “This research shows that if patients can be supported to carry out home tests they may require fewer hospital appointments and have better data on their condition.

"These are important findings and we are delighted to have supported this research, which we hope will benefit many people living with glaucoma in the future.”

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