Also known as raised eye pressure, this condition means the pressure in your eye is higher than normal which could lead to problems.
Ocular hypertension symptoms
Usually, you won’t experience any symptoms with ocular hypertension and it’s unlikely that it will cause any damage to your vision in the short term. However, the risks of developing glaucoma are much greater in the long term, which poses a risk to your sight.
How does ocular hypertension link to glaucoma?
A consistently high pressure is the most significant risk factor in the development of glaucoma – the higher the pressure, the greater the risk.
However, the relationship between eye pressure and glaucoma is complex and one which we don’t fully understand. While some people with ocular hypertension are more prone to developing glaucoma, the majority are not.
That’s why it’s important for your optician to keep an eye on your pressure so if higher levels are found, further tests can be arranged to assess whether you may be more or less prone to developing glaucoma.
What causes ocular hypertension?
The fluid within the front section of the eye is called aqueous humour, which supplies nutrients as well as taking away any waste. The level of eye pressure (intraocular pressure) is controlled by a balance between the amount of this fluid produced, and its drainage out of the eye.
Most cases of ocular hypertension are caused by a restriction or blockage in the eye’s drainage channels. Without proper drainage, the pressure of the fluid becomes greater than normal, causing higher eye pressure.
Risk factors of ocular hypertension
Anyone can develop ocular hypertension, but there are several factors that could increase the risk of getting the condition:
- A family history of ocular hypertension or glaucoma
- Age – chances are greater as we get older
- Ethnicity – you’re more likely to develop this condition if you are from African-Caribbean descent
- Very high myopia (short-sightedness)
- Certain medications have side effects that raise eye pressure in some people
- Eye injuries, even years after they happen, can affect your intraocular pressure
Finding ocular hypertension
During an eye test, your optician will perform tests in order to check for ocular hypertension and any signs of glaucoma:
- Your eye pressure will be measured using a tonometer. For a normal, average eye pressure, they’ll be looking for a reading between 10mmHg and 21mmHG. Anything that is consistently above this level would indicate ocular hypertension.
- The health of your optic nerve.
- A visual field test will check your peripheral vision, where glaucoma begins.
- Signs of other eye conditions that are related to increased eye pressure.
Treatments for ocular hypertension
Fortunately, ocular hypertension can be treated if necessary. The most common treatment is the use of eye drops to help reduce the eye pressure.
For the vast majority of people, ocular hypertension will not cause any problems, but around 10% will develop glaucoma over time. For those with a higher chance of developing glaucoma, daily eye drops can be prescribed to reduce the eye pressure and halve the risk of glaucoma occurring.
It’s important that you have regular eye tests so that we can monitor your eye pressure and look for the signs of glaucoma starting to develop. Treatment for glaucoma is most effective when it is caught early.