Revised and Updated by Seth Preston on: September 26, 2019
What comes to mind when Hypertension is mentioned? One may think of blood pressure and stress. Another may think of a poor, unbalanced diet leading to artery flow blockage. The subject of being susceptible to a heart attack often comes to mind. But, what about eye pressure?
Fortunately, we know more about Ocular Hypertension thanks to the field of clinical research. We now know what you can do to help prevent elevated eye pressure.
Do You Have Ocular Hypertension?
Knowing whether or not you have ocular hypertension is difficult, because you cannot tell by yourself through symptoms such as redness or eye pain. However, if you get a regular dilated exam by your eye doctor, they will measure your intraocular pressure (IOP). If your doctor receives an irregular eye pressure reading of 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or higher, you are unfortunately in the range of ocular hypertension.
The causes for an elevated IOP can be noted by a few factors. The website All About Vision has a bulleted list that can explain these factors.
- Excessive aqueous production.The aqueous (or aqueous humor) is a clear fluid that is produced in the eye by the ciliary body, a structure located behind the iris. The aqueous flows through the pupil and fills the anterior chamber of the eye, which is the space between the iris and the cornea.The aqueous drains from the eye through a structure called the trabecular meshwork, in the periphery of the anterior chamber, where the cornea and iris meet. If the ciliary body produces too much aqueous, the pressure in the eye increases, causing ocular hypertension.
- Certain medications can have the side effect of causing ocular hypertension in certain individuals. Steroid medicines used to treat asthma and other conditions have been shown to increase the risk for ocular hypertension.
- Eye trauma. An injury to the eye can affect the balance of aqueous production and drainage from the eye, possibly leading to ocular hypertension.Sometimes this can occur months or years after the injury. During your routine eye exams, be sure to mention to your doctor if you have experienced any eye trauma recently or in the past.
- Other eye conditions.Ocular hypertension has been associated with a number of other eye conditions, including pseudo-exfoliation syndrome, pigment dispersion syndrome and corneal arcus.
Generally, doctors prescribe eye drops for elevated IOP, but do this under the caveat of potential side effects. At their discretion, they may also monitor your IOP and not take action until you show more signs of developing glaucoma. Early on, your IOP may only be observed and enacted upon if more immediate measures are required to treat your condition. This would include glaucoma surgery to relieve your ocular pressure if eye drops are ineffective.
Elevated intraocular pressure can lead to serious problems, but can be manageable if monitored and treated properly. CROs in the field of Ophthalmology tirelessly manage the research with elevated IOP and have made great strides in diagnosing and treating the condition.