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A comparison of the Goldmann applanation and non-contact (Keeler Pulsair EasyEye) tonometers and the effect of central corneal thickness in indigenous African eyes


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The Keeler Pulsair EasyEye non-contact tonometer (NCT) was introduced into practice at Rachel Eye Center Abuja, Nigeria, where the patients are indigenous Africans. This was compared to the ‘gold standard’ Goldmann applanation tonometer (GAT) to determine if the instrument was accurate in Africans, with particular reference to the influence of central corneal thickness (CCT).

Patients and methods:  174 eyes of 88 patients were analysed. Pachymetry was performed using Sonomed PacScan AP300, and GAT with the Haag Streit R-900. Pachymetric corrections of NCT (NCTc) and GAT (GATc) were carried out with the Sonomed algorithm. Pearson’s correlation r, linear regression analysis, Student t-test and Bland–Altman analysis were used to compare the instruments.

Results:  Mean NCT readings were similar (17.36 mmHg) to mean GAT (17.42 mmHg; p = 0.769). GAT/NCT correlation coefficient, r, was 0.883 as compared with 0.868 for GATc/NCTc. The linear regression equation was GAT = 2.79 + 0.84*NCT (r2 = 0.78). Forty-five per cent of differences were within 1 mmHg, while 79% were within 3 mmHg. This was similar to findings in some studies on Caucasians. Bland–Altman analysis however suggested that the spread of differences was wider than in those studies. Outliers (differences more than 5 mmHg) sometimes reflected difficulties encountered with GAT in routine practice. Mean CCT was 537.9 μm, (S.D. 38.4, 95% confidence interval 532.1–543.7 μm) and CCT appeared lower than in Caucasians. Both GAT and NCT IOP tended to rise with increasing CCT but NCT had a greater tendency to do so. Regression analysis suggested that NCT IOP increased by 0.6 mmHg for every 10 μm increase in CCT, compared to 0.4 mmHg for GAT. Thirty-eight per cent of the patients preferred NCT as opposed to 25% GAT.

Conclusions:  The Keeler Pulsair EasyEye gives reliable measurements of IOP in African eyes but is significantly affected by CCT. Particularly in borderline cases where management decisions have to be taken, it may be necessary to have pachymetric corrections based on an NCT algorithm, which appears steeper than the GAT algorithm.

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