High ocular tension or elevated intraocular pressure is one of the risk factors that increase the possibility of suffering from glaucoma, an initially asymptomatic ocular disease in which the optic nerve deteriorates and which, if not treated in time, could lead to blindness.
When we speak of ocular tension we refer to the pressure exerted by the liquids that are inside our eyeball, especially the aqueous humor, on the solid structures of the eye, such as the crystalline, the cornea or the iris.
What is Considered Dangerously High Eye Pressure?
Normal intraocular pressure, which is measured in millimeters of mercury or mmHg, should range between 11 and 21 mmHg, if after two consecutive measurements this value is exceeded, it is considered that the patient may suffer from high ocular tension. Because this value does not stay the same throughout the day, it may be necessary to measure the eye pressure several times before determining that it is indeed high.
The ocular tension is measured in a very simple way thanks to an instrument called a tonometer which, by means of a quick and completely painless examination, determines the resistance of the cornea to pressure. If the result indicates that it is high, the specialist may perform other tests to ensure a diagnosis.
Why Does Eye Strain Go Up?
High ocular tension usually occurs when there is an imbalance in the ability of the eye to drain the aqueous humor, causing fluid to accumulate inside the eye and increasing eye pressure. It can also occur in patients who produce an excess of aqueous humor, making it difficult to drain it.
The reasons why this condition occurs are not clear, however there are some risk factors that can increase our possibility of suffering from high ocular tension and, therefore, of possible glaucoma. These are:
- Having a direct relative member with ocular hypertension or glaucoma.
- Suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or circulatory problems.
- Be over 40 years old.
- Having suffered traumatisms or injuries to the eyes.
- Prolonged use of certain medications, such as steroids and corticosteroids.
- Additionally, this condition is more common in people of Latino and African-American origin.
Relationship between High Ocular Tension and Glaucoma
Although there are different types of glaucoma and not all are directly related to a high eye pressure, in most cases glaucoma is the result of high eye pressure that remains untreated for a long time.
Over time the high intraocular pressure causes damage to the delicate optic nerves, when these damages are irreparable then the patient suffers from glaucoma.
Addressing this condition in its initial stage is very important, since the ocular pressure can be controlled with the appropriate treatment, thus avoiding irreversible damages that lead to blindness. It is also possible to control early-stage glaucoma with the appropriate treatment, but when the patient’s vision is already compromised then it will be impossible to recover it.
Why are Ophthalmological Examinations Important After Age 40?
From this 40 age increases our risk of suffering several visual problems, such as presbyopia or eyestrain and glaucoma. Periodic ophthalmological check-ups are the only way to guarantee our ocular and visual health, especially in the face of conditions that do not present symptoms at first, such as a high eye strain or glaucoma itself.
How to Lower High Intraocular Pressure?
Topical drops are usually the most used alternative. However, a laser treatment can also be applied to drain the accumulated fluid or a filtering surgery to create a drainage hole, this in case of patients who present some type of contraindication or who require another measure to maintain the pressure at an adequate level.
A diagnosis in time can prevent us from being another victim of this disease, considered the second cause of blindness in Western countries. It is relevant performing your annual ophthalmological check-ups to guarantee the well-being of your eyes and vision. The treatment for high ocular tension should be determined and supervised by an ophthalmologist.
- “High Eye Pressure (Ocular Hypertension).” American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-ocular-hypertension
- “Glaucoma.” National Eye Institute. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma
- “Intraocular Pressure.” Glaucoma Research Foundation. https://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/intraocular-pressure.php
- “Glaucoma.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20372839
- Turalba, A. V., Grosskreutz, C. L., & Traboulsi, E. I. (2010). Update on congenital glaucoma. Seminars in ophthalmology, 25(5-6), 285-291.