For people with glaucoma, regular monitoring of intraocular pressure (IOP) is important for making sure that their treatment is effective. But testing involves going to the eye doctor, which can be a burden, especially for older patients. Can glaucoma patients safely and accurately measure their own IOP at home?
To test that concept, researchers recruited 100 glaucoma patients (average age, 67) and taught them how to measure their own IOP with a rebound tonometer. This handheld and battery-powered device consists of a tiny plastic ball on a steel wire, held in place by an electromagnetic field. When the device is held up to the eye and activated, the ball touches the cornea and decelerates. The speed of deceleration is measured and converted into IOP.
Study results, which were reported in 2017 in JAMA Ophthalmology, were encouraging: 73 participants successfully measured their IOP, meaning they reported a reading within 5 mm Hg of that obtained by a researcher using the same device. Most people reported being comfortable doing the test.
The device used in this study was recently approved by the FDA as a home tonometer, called Icare Home. It is available through optometrists and ophthalmologists, who typically charge patients a fee to take it home and use it for a limited time to get a more complete picture of IOP levels throughout the day and night.
The device sends the results to the doctor via a computer hook-up. Medicare does not cover the cost. To find out more, talk to your eye specialist.