Portable tonometer offers ease, accuracy

January 15, 2010

A handheld applanation tonometer is a newer portable device for measuring IOP that has been designed for reliable performance and easy, economical use.

Cape Coral, FL-A handheld applanation tonometer (AccuPen, Accutome) is a newer portable device for measuring IOP that has been designed for reliable performance and easy, economical use.

The handheld device weighs only 3 ounces, which makes it comfortable and easy for the operator to use. In addition, it has integrated software for calculating an adjusted IOP based on central corneal thickness.

Ergonomics matter

"We really appreciate the ergonomics of this handheld tonometer, which facilitates aligning the eye with the tip, and we have been very pleased with its reliably accurate performance," said Farrell C. Tyson II, MD.

Dr. Tyson is medical director at Cape Coral Eye Center, Cape Coral, FL, a busy group practice where the device has been available for about 1 year, beginning with a prototype model.

He added that the tonometer has been well-received by the entire staff, who found the simplicity of its use virtually eliminated any learning curve. Although lightweight, the handheld device also has a rugged, durable design so that it stands up well to daily wear and tear.

"Although our staff does [its] best to handle equipment with the utmost of care, instruments can still take a beating as they are passed around day after day from one exam lane to another," Dr. Tyson said. "Compared with our previous handheld tonometer, the [newer device] appears less fragile in daily use."

In addition, it is equipped with a low-cost, long-lasting, 3.6 V lithium battery that provides power for up to 15,000 measurements.

Suzanne Fravel, COA, an ophthalmic assistant at the Cape Coral Eye Center, concurs with Dr. Tyson about the reliability of the tonometer. She said that it offers a time-saving benefit because the need for calibration is reduced.

"The small tip design also seems to enhance contact on the cornea, and together with its rapid readout, the [device] makes IOP measurement very patient friendly," Fravel said.

James O'Connor, marketing manager, Accutome, describes accuracy and portability as the major benefits of the handheld applanation tonometer. In addition, the instrument was created to be as easy as possible to use, he said.

"The [handheld applanation tonometer] features a great ergonomic design so that it fits comfortably in any hand," O'Connor said. "That is because we took a few different moldings and surveyed users to identify which was the easiest to use."

Although calibration is an issue with other handheld tonometers, there is no need to calibrate before each use with the newer device, which features gravity offset technology, he said.

"The user merely has to hold the instrument in the measurement position, press the button, and tap the eye," he said. "A pressure measurement is typically obtained with three to five gentle taps to the cornea."