Glaucoma and High Eye Pressure

by Jun 23, 2023

Glaucoma is an eye condition that is often associated with having high eye pressure, or intraocular pressure. However, eye pressure is only one factor in determining whether or not someone has glaucoma. Eye pressure can be elevated for other reasons than just glaucoma, including inflammation in the eye, a response to steroids, or the pressure can be high without any apparent cause – called ocular hypertension. When the eye pressure is checked, it is an important part of a comprehensive eye exam and can be a vital tool in diagnosing glaucoma but it is not a guarantee that glaucoma is present even when the eye pressure is high.


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a progressive eye condition that leads to damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye and can result in loss of peripheral vision.

In typical glaucoma, the eye pressure is too high and leads to an extra force applied to the back of the eye, including the optic nerve.

The damage from glaucoma causes nerve fiber loss around the optic nerve which corresponds to the loss of side vision.

In severe cases of glaucoma, the vision loss will progress to impact central vision and can lead to blindness in the worst cases.


What is a Normal Eye Pressure?

Normal eye pressure can fall within the range of 10 to 21 mmHg. This range includes the vast majority of the population without other factors impacting eye pressure.

While most individuals will fall within the normal range of eye pressure, it is possible to be slightly outside of the normal range and still have no issue impacting the eye pressure.

For some individuals, the cornea is thicker than average and causes measurements of eye pressure to be falsely high.


What Can Cause High Eye Pressure?

Having high eye pressure can be the result of many different processes including glaucoma, inflammation of the eye, a response to steroid eye drops, or for an unknown reason.

Not all high eye pressure is related to glaucoma, however, all high eye pressure is a concern for causing glaucoma in the future.

If there is no damage to the optic nerve and the visual field is completely unaffected, the high eye pressure is not likely to be categorized as glaucoma.

Instead, these cases are categorized by the cause – or lack thereof.

To identify the cause of high eye pressure, a comprehensive eye exam is needed and additional testing may be required to rule out damage from glaucoma.


Is High Eye Pressure Treated?

If the high eye pressure is causing glaucomatous damage to the optic nerve, the high eye pressure should be treated with eye drops or laser surgery to lower the eye pressure.

However, if the eye pressure is high but has not caused any damage to the nerve, it is more discretionary as to whether intervention is needed or not.

Many times, high pressure caused by inflammation or steroid response will lower once the cause is controlled or removed.

Ocular hypertension is often treated similarly to glaucoma if the pressure is high consistently. Eye drops or surgery to lower the pressure will be considered as the treatment to prevent future damage.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about high eye pressure. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, and Patricia Jones provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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