Ocular Hypertension


Most people have heard the term “hypertension” as it relates to blood pressure. Fewer people, however, realize the term can refer to the pressure of fluid inside the eye. Ocular hypertension can lead to serious eye health issues, including glaucoma.

Between three million and six million people in the United States experience ocular hypertension. Because this condition doesn’t show symptoms, they may not even realize they have an issue. Read on to learn more about this risk factor for one of the most common causes of blindness in people over the age of 60.

What is Ocular Hypertension?

Your eye is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid flows over the front of your eye, then it drains away, making room for fresh moisture. This cycle should keep the pressure in your eye stable, with an equal amount of aqueous humor draining away as is replenished.

When an insufficient amount of fluid drains away, it causes the pressure inside your eye (the intraocular pressure, or IOP) to rise. This can happen in only one eye, or unilateral ocular hypertension, or in both eyes, called bilateral ocular hypertension. If left untreated, a high IOP can cause damage to your eye.

The Relationship Between Ocular Hypertension and Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that occurs because of damage to your optic nerve. It usually occurs when high intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve. This is how ocular hypertension can lead to compromised eye health and even vision loss.

The Risk Factors for Ocular Hypertension

While anyone can develop ocular hypertension, some people are more prone to it than others. Risk factors for this condition include:

  • People of Black or Hispanic ancestry
  • People with a family history of glaucoma or ocular hypertension
  • Diabetics and people with high blood pressure
  • Individuals over the age of 40
  • Nearsighted individuals
  • Patients with pigment dispersion syndrome or pseudoexfoliation syndrome
  • Patients who have had eye surgery or eye injuries
  • People prescribed long-term steroid medications

Treatment for Ocular Hypertension

Often, this condition responds to prescription medications either in pill or eye-drop form. If medication isn’t enough, surgery may be necessary to lower the pressure in your eye.

Healthy Eyes Start at Valley Eyecare Center!

It’s vital to have an annual eye exam to ensure silent conditions such as ocular hypertension are diagnosed promptly. Give Valley Eyecare Center a call at (602) 955-2700, or contact us online!