Ocular hypertension

Also known as high eye pressure, this condition means the pressure in your eye is higher than normal. There’s usually no damage to vision, but it does increase your risk of developing glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of ocular hypertension?

Usually, you won’t experience any symptoms with ocular hypertension and it’s unlikely that it will have any damage to your vision. But the risks of developing glaucoma are much greater, which poses a risk to your sight. The only way to detect ocular hypertension is during an eye test – so it’s important to have one regularly.

A healthy eye pressure usually measures somewhere between 10mmHg and 21mmHg – anything above that indicates ocular hypertension.

What causes ocular hypertension?

The fluid at the front of the eye is called aqueous humour, which supplies nutrients as well as taking away any waste. 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 drainage channels. So the fluid continues to replenish but is unable to properly drain away, causing the pressure to build up within the eye.

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

What help is available?

Unfortunately, ocular hypertension cannot be prevented, but it can be treated. The most common treatment is the use of eye drops to help reduce 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 spot the signs of glaucoma starting to develop. Treatment for glaucoma is most effective when it is caught early.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.