Ocular hypertension means the pressure in your eye, or your intraocular pressure (IOP), is higher than normal levels. With this condition, the front of the eye does not drain fluid properly. This causes eye pressure to build up. Elevated IOP is also associated with glaucoma, which is a more serious condition that causes vision loss and optic nerve damage. By itself, however, ocular hypertension doesn't damage your vision or eyes.

Studies suggest that 2% to 3% of the general population may have ocular hypertension.

Ocular hypertension is not the same as glaucoma. With high IOP, the optic nerve looks normal and there are no signs of vision loss. However, people with high IOP are considered “glaucoma suspects.” That means they should have eye exams regularly to be checked for glaucoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Ocular Hypertension

During routine eye exams, a tonometer is used to measure your IOP. Your eye typically is numbed with eye drops, and a small probe gently rests against your eye's surface. Other tonometers direct a puff of air onto your eye's surface to indirectly measure IOP.

What Causes Ocular Hypertension?

Anyone can develop high IOP, but it is most common in African-Americans, people over 40, those with family history of ocular hypertension or glaucoma, and those with diabetes or high amounts of nearsightedness.

IOP may become elevated due to excessive aqueous fluid production or inadequate drainage. Certain medications, such as steroids, and trauma can cause higher-than-normal IOP measurements as well.

Ocular Hypertension Treatment

It is important to lower high eye pressure it before it causes vision loss or damage to the optic nerve.

Depending on your eye pressure, our doctors may decide not to start treatment right away. He or she will monitor pressure with regular testing instead. However, our doctors may decide that you need medicine to lower your intraocular pressure. Eyedrop medicine can lower eye pressure. It is important that you follow the directions exactly for them to work.

In certain circumstances, our doctors may prescribe more than one medicine. They will schedule a visit within several weeks of starting the medicine to see how it is working.

Sometimes, a surgery called laser trabeculoplasty is used to lower eye pressure.

For more information on this topic, schedule an appointment with Optima Eyecare.