By Adrian Galbreth
Home measurement of eye pressure in youngsters may improve the management of the blinding condition glaucoma, experts claim.
In a new study by scientists at the Duke Eye Center, it was found that parents using a new device known as the Icare Rebound Tonometer were able to evaluate intraocular pressure (IOP) patterns in children at home, establishing comparative values that may be useful for the study and treatment of children with glaucoma.
Measurement of IOP is known to fluctuate throughout the day, and wide swings in patients with glaucoma are believed to be related to the progression of the disease, which can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and vision.
Normally, the clinical assessment of IOP is been restricted to office visits during daytime hours, but the new research, published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, offers hope to young sufferers.
In the study, the parents of 11 children were instructed on the proper use of the Icare Rebound Tonometer, a device that does not require anesthetic drops or specialised training, and measured IOP six times daily for two consecutive days, from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
The Icare tonometry did not cause any complaints, discomfort or adverse effects in patients, with the results showing that the normal eyes of healthy children had a fluctuation in eye pressure of about five mm Hg throughout the day.
The eye pressure tended to be higher in the morning and lower in the evening, with the two normal eyes of a healthy child going up and down in unison, explained lead investigator Dr Sharon Freedman, professor of ophthalmology and paediatrics and chief of the Pediatric Division at Duke Eye Center.
She explained that diabetes is monitored by patients using home glucose monitors, but there has been no equivalent home technique for patients to use to measure their own eye pressures - until recently.
"We found that home measurement of IOP is not only quite possible, but provides some baseline information about the expected variability of eye pressures in the normal eyes of healthy children," she added.
Dr Freeman said she hopes this will "open the door" to the use of home tonometry for selected children and adults with known glaucoma, and will be helpful in managing the disease.
by Alexa Kaczka