Ocular hypertension is a term used to describe an increase in eye pressure that is above the normal healthy range. Normal healthy eye pressure typically ranges from 10-21. Patients diagnosed as “ocular hypertensives” have eye pressure over 21 however, have no detectable changes in vision or damage to the structure of their eyes. The term ocular hypertension is used to distinguish people with elevated eye pressure from those with glaucoma, a serious eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve and potential blindness. Patient’s with ocular hypertension are at greater risk to develop glaucoma and therefore should be monitored accordingly.
Ocular hypertension can occur in people of all ages, but occurs more frequently in African Americans, those over age 40, and those with a family history of high eye pressure or glaucoma. It is also more common in diabetics, those with high blood pressure, nearsighted patients and patients with sleep apnea. Like glaucoma, ocular hypertension has no noticeable signs or symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that patients with ocular hypertension are at greater risk to develop glaucoma over time however, the percentage of those that go on to develop glaucoma can vary from 10-50% depending on the study.
There is no cure for ocular hypertension. Careful monitoring can decrease the risk of an ocular hypertensive patient advancing to glaucoma. Patients with ocular hypertension can be thought of like someone who has been told they are pre-diabetic. These individuals must make serious efforts to lower their blood sugar and change their lifestyle to avoid progressing on to diabetes. Patients’ with ocular hypertension should have their eye pressure evaluated yearly at minimum. Making strides to improve overall systemic health through diet and exercise can also play a role in avoiding ocular hypertension from progressing to glaucoma. Individuals who have had good vision all their life and don’t believe they need their eyes examined should reconsider an eye health and vision exam to make sure they do not have this symptom free condition.
As the baby boomer population explodes over the next ten years the National Eye Institute (NEI) believes the incidence of glaucoma will rise significantly. In fact, in the next 25 years the NEI estimates that the incidence of glaucoma will double. Those with additional risk factors, such as ocular hypertension, should absolutely have regular eye health exams. Glaucoma is ranked as the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States. A simple eye pressure test may help make the difference between having good vision in your retirement or not.
If you have questions concerning ocular hypertension or would like to have your eye pressure evaluated, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!