Why Is Your Eye Doctor So Concerned About Eye Pressure?

Posted on: 23 October 2015

Have you ever wondered why your eye doctor is so persistent about running tests to measure your eye pressure? What is eye pressure, anyways? The term "eye pressure" actually refers to the pressure inside your eye, and knowing this measurement tells your eye doctor whether you're at risk for a condition called glaucoma. Here's a look at a few more details about eye pressure, glaucoma, and how the two are related.

What is normal eye pressure?

In a normal, healthy eye, the intraocular pressure should measure between 12 and 22 mm Hg. If your eye pressure is above 22 mm Hg, your doctor will examine you for other signs of glaucoma. If you do not show other signs of glaucoma, you will be diagnosed with a condition called ocular hypertension, which simply means that you have high eye pressure. This condition puts you at risk of glaucoma, even if you do not currently have the condition, and so you will need to return to the eye doctor for regular screenings to ensure you're not developing glaucoma.

What is glaucoma, and what are its symptoms?

If you have high eye pressure, the other symptoms of glaucoma your eye doctor will look for are:

  • The loss of peripheral (or side) vision
  • Generalized vision loss
  • The appearance of halos around lights
  • Redness in the eyes
  • A look of haziness in the eyes

How is glaucoma treated?

If your doctor determines that you have glaucoma, the recommended treatment will depend on how progressed the disease is. Minor cases are often managed with prescription eye drops that slow the development of the condition and keep high eye pressure under control. Some patients may be prescribed oral medications to lower their blood pressure, which in turn lowers their intraocular pressure. In more severe cases, laser surgery may be performed in which a small hole is poked in the eye in order to drain some of the fluid and relieve pressure. 

If you are at risk for glaucoma, how can you prevent it?

If you have high eye pressure (not not a full glaucoma diagnosis yet), or if you have a family history of glaucoma, you can reduce your risk of developing this condition by eating a healthy, low-salt diet, getting plenty of exercise, and not smoking. The same measures that are good for your heart and lower your risk of high blood pressure also lower your risk of glaucoma.

The next time an eye doctor (such as Dr Ron Sealock) measures the pressure in your eyes, you'll have a better understanding of why this test is done and what the results indicate.