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 inadequate 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.
It occurs most commonly in people with a family history of ocular hypertension, people who are shortsighted, and people with diabetes.
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
Considering that the condition may put one at higher risk for glaucoma, careful and frequent monitoring by an eye care professional is recommended for those with ocular hypertension.