The Science of The Eye: The Damn Eye Puff Exam

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The above pic is me, showing off my effortless swag that caused me to shatter my glasses on the pavement. While I wait a week or so for my new pair to arrive, I'll be rocking the ugly tape that decides to peel off at least once a day. Yeah, I'm awesome.

For those of you that have never had an eye exam, there's more involved than the eye chart reading that you've probably seen in the movies. The most notable part is the one that used to scare me as a kid - the glaucoma "eye puff" test. Otherwise known as The Puffy.


The test involves putting your head in front of a machine and resting your chain on an always dirty chin strap (seriously, they never clean them).  You hold your eye wide open for as long as possible, without blinking, until they put a strong puff of air into your eye to measure fluid pressure.

According to VSP blog:

That little puff, (and it has become smaller and more gentle as technology has evolved) is measuring the fluid pressure inside the eye. There is fluid constantly being produced in your eye and a drainage system that ferries it back into the bloodstream. When the drainage system malfunctions, the pressure inside the eye starts to rise. We know from large-scale studies that keeping the eye pressure low enough helps prevent loss of sight. High pressure acts to dampen the circulation to the optic nerve and cause a slow, painless loss of vision. Over 50% of the nerve may be dead before you become aware of the loss of vision, so annual eye pressure checks are good, preventative medicine.

Sounds horrible, and it is definitely uncomfortable. But it could be worse! In the 19th century, a similar machine known as a tonometer measured eye pressure by pressing small weights onto the eye.  Yeah ... I'll pass on that.

Stay puffy my friends!

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