Ocular hypertension occurs when the intraocular pressure (IOP) is elevated. Untreated ocular hypertension may lead to glaucoma and blindness.
Fortunately, there are people who have ocular hypertension that did not develop any damage to their vision as determined by a visual field testing and a comprehensive eye exam.
How to Know if You Have Ocular Hypertension?
Ocular hypertension is usually asymptomatic. There are no outward signs like red eyes or eye pain for this condition. It can only be diagnosed with a measurement of your IOP in a comprehensive eye exam done by your eye doctor.
An eye pressure of 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or higher signifies ocular hypertension. Highly elevated eye pressure is dangerous as it exerts increased force with the interior of your eye which can damage the optic nerve. This eventually leads to glaucoma.
Causes of High Eye Pressure
Ocular hypertension and glaucoma both have the same causes which include:
Eye trauma. Trauma or injury to the eye can disrupt the balance of aqueous production and drainage from the eye. Ocular hypertension resulting from an injury may occur after a few months or years. Make sure to mention any eye injury you may have experienced in the past to properly assess any complications such as ocular hypertension.
Inadequate aqueous drainage. Too slow aqueous drainage in the eye can meddle in the normal balance of the fluid production and drainage in the eye.
Excessive aqueous production. The aqueous humor is the clear fluid in the eye produced by the ciliary body behind the iris. This fluid flows through the pupil and fills the space between the iris and the cornea. If the ciliary body produces excessive aqueous, the pressure in the eye increases.
Steroid medications or eye drops can cause high eye pressure in vulnerable individuals. If you have been prescribed with steroid medications, consult with your eye doctor to have your IOP regularly checked.
Other eye conditions such as pseudoexfoliation syndrome, pigment dispersion syndrome, and corneal arcus have been linked with ocular hypertension. These conditions commonly affect people in their 40s and people with thinner central cornea thickness. If you have any history of these conditions, your eye doctor may advise having more frequent eye exams and eye pressure measurements.
Ocular Hypertension Treatment
Certain eye drops may be prescribed to reduce eye pressure. However, these medications may have undesirable side effects which is why doctors only prescribe these if you show other signs of developing glaucoma.
In other cases or when the eye drops are not effective in reducing your IOP, your eye doctor might proceed with other glaucoma treatment measures such as glaucoma surgery to treat high eye pressure. Because of the alarming risk for glaucoma with ocular hypertension, make sure to have your IOP measured regularly to monitor the condition.