Ocular hypertension is high pressure inside the eye. If left untreated, it can lead to glaucoma and lasting loss of eyesight.
High eye pressure is caused by fluid build up in the eye. This can happen if the eye makes too much fluid, or the fluid does not drain well. The excess fluid creates high pressure in the eye. In time, this can damage nerves that are needed to see.
High eye pressure is more common in people over age 40. Other things that raise the risk are:
- A family history of high eye pressure or glaucoma
- Having diabetes or high blood pressure
- Long term use of steroid medicines
- Having a thin cornea—the clear outer layer of the eye
- Eye injuries or eye surgeries
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. An eye exam will be done. A test will measure the pressure in the eye. Other eye tests may be done, such as:
- Visual field test to look for vision loss
- Photographs of the optic nerve
- Gonioscopy—to see if the area where fluid drains out of the eye is open or closed
- Tests of the nerve fiber layer around the optic nerve
The goal is to lower eye pressure before it harms eyesight. The doctor may want to just monitor the eye at first. This means regular eye exams and eye pressure checks.
Treatment may include eyedrop medicine or pills to:
- Lower the amount of fluid the eye makes
- Increase the flow of fluid
Sometimes laser treatment or surgery may be used to drain the excess fluid.
Even with treatment, the condition needs to be watched. Regular eye exams and eye pressure checks are important.
American Academy of Ophthalmology https://www.aao.org
The Glaucoma Foundation http://www.glaucomafoundation.org
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society http://www.cos-sco.ca
Glaucoma Research Society of Canada https://www.glaucomaresearch.ca
Busool Y, Mimouni M, et al. Risk factors predicting steroid-induced ocular hypertension after photorefractive keratectomy. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017;43(3):389-393.
Ocular hypertension. American Optometric Association website. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/ocular-hypertension?sso=y. Accessed May 28, 2021.
Ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Bright Focus Foundation website. Available at: https://www.brightfocus.org/glaucoma/article/ocular-hypertension-and-glaucoma. Accessed May 28, 2021.
Primary open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-open-angle-glaucoma. Accessed May 28, 2021.
What is ocular hypertension? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-ocular-hypertension. Accessed May 28, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 10/2021
- Update Date: 10/05/2021