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Ocular Hypertension

What is ocular hypertension?

Ocular hypertension is pressure in your eyes that is higher than normal. High pressure in the eyes is a symptom, not a disease. This high pressure can, but does not always damage the eyes or change your vision.

How does it occur?

Ocular hypertension is most common in people who have:

  • a family history of glaucoma or ocular hypertension
  • diabetes
  • African-American ancestry.

It is also more common in people over the age of 40. Pressure in the eye may be increased by certain medicines, or by an injury to the eye.

Ocular hypertension is not related to high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms?

Ocular hypertension does not usually cause symptoms.

How is it diagnosed?

Your eyecare provider will examine your eyes and measure the pressure inside the eye. An eye pressure reading of 21 mmHg or higher means that you have ocular hypertension. The eye care provider may:

  • check for changes in your side vision caused by damage to the optic nerve
  • look at the optic nerve inside your eye
  • measure the thickness of your cornea
  • examine the drainage channels with a special mirrored lens

How is it treated?

If you have ocular hypertension, you may not need treatment. Because ocular hypertension increases your risk for glaucoma, you should have regular eye exams. Your eyecare provider may prescribe eye drops or other medicines to reduce the pressure in your eyes.

How long will the effects last?

Ocular hypertension is a life-long condition. With regular follow-up care to check for problems, most people have good vision.

How can I prevent future problems?

Let your eyecare provider know that you have ocular hypertension. Keep all appointments for checkups. If you develop headaches, eye pain, or loss of vision, contact your provider right away.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-06
Last reviewed: 2010-10-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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