Ocular hypertension occurs when the pressure in the eye (known as intraocular pressure) is above the range considered normal (often defined as above 21 mm Hg). It is distinguished from glaucoma, a more serious eye condition, in that there are no detectable changes in vision, no evidence of visual field loss, and no damage to the optic nerve. Patients diagnosed with ocular hypertension have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
What Causes Ocular Hypertension?
Ocular hypertension is the result of poor drainage of the aqueous humor (a fluid inside the eye). Essentially, this means that too much fluid enters the eye without being drained, causing high amounts of pressure to build up.
An injury to the eye, certain diseases and some medications may raise eye pressure. Your risk of developing ocular hypertension increases if you have a family history of ocular hypertension or glaucoma, have diabetes, are over the age of 40, are African American or are very near-sighted.
Symptoms of Ocular Hypertension
Because there are no symptoms with ocular hypertension, it is impossible for a patient to notice it on their own. However, if a regular eye exam schedule is maintained, an eye care professional can find it in routine testing.
During a regular eye exam, intraocular pressure is measured using a device called a tonometer. If elevated pressure is measured above 21 mm Hg twice, an eye care professional may diagnose ocular hypertension.
Treatment for Ocular Hypertension
Ocular hypertension may put you at risk for developing glaucoma. Careful and frequent monitoring by an eye care professional is recommended for those with ocular hypertension.
Medication (eye drops) - your eye care professional may prescribe medication to lower your intraocular pressure.
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