What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that can be caused by having excess fluid pressure in the eye. This may damage nerves at the back of the eyes which can lead to visual defects if left untreated.
What is ocular hypertension?
Ocular hypertension (OHT) is where the pressure in the eye is higher than normal, but there are no other signs of glaucoma. In many cases, it may be monitored without needing treatment. In some cases, it may be treated with eye drops to lower the pressure to a satisfactory level.
What is the suspect monitoring service?
It is a free service that allows patients to be monitored by a local optometrist, instead of needing a hospital appointment.
Who provides the service?
The service is provided by trained community optometrists. The referral management service (RMS) will contact you to give you the names of optometric practices in your area who are trained in this service.
How will I get my appointment?
You will be contacted by the RMS a few weeks before you need an appointment. You will be given the names of optometry practices that offer the service. The practice you choose will then contact you to arrange to have the tests done.
Why am I being referred to this service?
You have been diagnosed by the hospital eye service as having OHT or be someone who may develop glaucoma. This means that you are more at risk than the average person of developing glaucoma, but the risk is low. It is important you have certain tests performed regularly to detect any change in your condition as early as possible. Some patients need to be seen every 6 months, others every 12 to 24 months.
What tests will be performed?
- An eye pressure test (intraocular pressure).
- Optic nerve examination. This may require you to have eye drops which will dilate your pupils to allow a clearer examination. For this reason, it is best not to drive to the appointment. For any further appointments, the optometrist will advise if you can drive.
- A visual field test.
What happens next?
If there is no change in your condition and your eye pressure is stable, your optometrist will advise when you need to have your next check-up.
The RMS will contact you again nearer the time to help you to make an appointment. This will be with the same optometrist whenever possible. Sometimes it may be necessary to repeat a test before a decision can be made.
If this is the case, your optometrist will arrange the necessary appointment, usually within a few weeks. If your optometrist has any concerns, they may discuss the results with the hospital eye service or refer you to the hospital.
Does this mean I do not need to have regular eye tests with my usual optometrist?
No. You should continue to see your regular optometrist as they will perform other tests that are not part of the monitoring service. Your regular optometrist will also check that your glasses are up-to-date.