What is Tonometry?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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If you have ever had an eye exam, there is a good chance that you have undergone a detection process that is known as tonometry. Here is some background on tonometry, including what the procedure is used for, how it is conducted, and why tonometry can make a big difference in your life.

Essentially, tonometry is a process that allows for measuring the pressure of the eye. What makes this method such an important part in maintaining proper eye care is that tonometry can help determine if there is the presence of glaucoma. Using the tonometry results, a competent ophthalmologist can determine if the eye is exhibiting symptoms of a higher level of tension or pressure that would be considered within normal limits. The presence of this raised level or pressure would indicate that there is undue stress that could eventually lead to loss of vision in both eyes.

By using tonometry to identify glaucoma early on, the chances of being able to treat the condition successfully are greatly enhanced. A number of surgical procedures today can be performed on an outpatient basis, often in the eye doctor’s office. Depending on the pressure readings from the tonometry, laser surgery may be an option. In very mild cases, there may be less radical procedures that can be employed to relieve the pressure and thus prevent any damage to peripheral vision and eventually frontal vision quality.


Tonometry works by employing pitch and vibration to measure the firmness of the eye. The performance of the eye while vibrations are administered supplies the means for the firmness to be measured. When something appears to be outside normal limits, additional tests can be ran and the condition diagnosed.

Non-ocular tonometry applications are less common, but can also be used in situations where there is a desire to determine the flexibility or firmness of a substance. Working along the same lines as a tuning fork, tonometry applications outside eye care can indicate weak spots in structures that are being constructed. Tonometry can also help to locate thin places in vessels of various kinds, and also help to identify erosion of electrical wiring that may not be apparent to the human eye.

The practice of tonometry has helped to make a difference in the lives of many persons who otherwise would be forced to live their lives without the gift of sight. By identifying a problem with the optic nerves and the amount of surface pressure on the eye itself, the chances of successfully treating the condition are much better. In most cases, tonometry helps to stop the damage and in some cases can even be the means of allowing for treatments that will restore a degree of the vision quality that had been lost.


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What are the uses of tonometry not related to the eys?

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