What causes ocular hypertension?

The fluid within the front section of the eye is called aqueous humour, which supplies nutrients as well as taking away any waste. The level of eye pressure (intraocular pressure) is controlled by a balance between the amount of this fluid produced, and its drainage out of the eye.

Most cases of ocular hypertension are caused by a restriction or blockage in the eye’s drainage channels. Without proper drainage, the pressure of the fluid becomes greater than normal, causing higher eye pressure.

Risk factors of ocular hypertension

Anyone can develop ocular hypertension, but there are several factors that could increase the risk of getting the condition:

  • A family history of ocular hypertension or glaucoma
  • Age – chances are greater as we get older
  • Ethnicity – you’re more likely to develop this condition if you are from African-Caribbean descent
  • Very high myopia (short-sightedness)
  • Certain medications have side effects that raise eye pressure in some people
  • Eye injuries, even years after they happen, can affect your intraocular pressure

Finding ocular hypertension

During an eye test, your optician will perform tests in order to check for ocular hypertension and any signs of glaucoma:

  • Your eye pressure will be measured using a tonometer. For a normal, average eye pressure, they’ll be looking for a reading between 10mmHg and 21mmHG. Anything that is consistently above this level would indicate ocular hypertension.
  • The health of your optic nerve.
  • A visual field test will check your peripheral vision, where glaucoma begins.
  • Signs of other eye conditions that are related to increased eye pressure.

Treatments for ocular hypertension

Fortunately, ocular hypertension can be treated if necessary. The most common treatment is the use of eye drops to help reduce the eye pressure.

For the vast majority of people, ocular hypertension will not cause any problems, but around 10% will develop glaucoma over time. For those with a higher chance of developing glaucoma, daily eye drops can be prescribed to reduce the eye pressure and halve the risk of glaucoma occurring.

It’s important that you have regular eye tests so that we can monitor your eye pressure and look for the signs of glaucoma starting to develop. Treatment for glaucoma is most effective when it is caught early.

Did you know?

Ocular hypertension is detected during an eye test – so it’s important to have one regularly so that we can monitor your eye pressure, and any changes, over time.