In the modern age, ‘pressure’ is an everyday obstacle everyone has to deal with. By itself and at a certain amount, pressure in any form isn’t inherently negative — be it societal, physical, or stress. There have been studies made on “good stress”, some amount of physical exertion is recommended for a healthy body, and the case could be argued that some pressure from society is even necessary to push individuals into achieving the fullness of their potential.
As Eye Doctors St Louis explains, the problem comes when there’s an excess. Excess societal pressure and stress could lead to poor mental health and exerting too much physical pressure could lead to injury. The pressure found in one’s eyes follows the same logic.
There is a normal range of eye pressure that’s between 12 to 22 millimeters of mercury. A higher rate of pressure is typically caused by excess aqueous humor that didn’t properly flow through to the trabecular meshwork.
In layman’s terms, there’s extra fluid in the front of the eyes because of a faulty drainage system. The problem with excess fluid and pressure in the eyes is that, like a balloon filled with too much water, eventually the tension would prove too much and there would be a “burst.” Unlike a water balloon, it’s not the eyes themselves that would be damaged by the pressure but the optic nerves within its interior, leading to vision loss and pain. The reason the angle or drainage system might have problems equalizing the amount of fluid in the eyes — the ‘stuck cog in the machine,’ if you will — could be eye injury or the effects of certain medication such as steroids.
When all this happens and the intraocular pressure rises to a level higher than 22 mm Hg, that’s when you have ocular hypertension. Strictly speaking, it’s not a disease per se as it doesn’t have any outward symptoms, but continued pressure on the interior of your eyes could lead to possible nerve damage and glaucoma. As such, it’s still best to regularly check up with your ophthalmologist to monitor the levels of your intraocular pressure, especially if you:
- Are African-American
- Are over the age of 40
- Have a history of glaucoma in your family
- Have diabetes or high blood pressure
- Have taken steroid medication for a long period, including steroid eye drops
- Have had an eye injury or surgery
There have been studies conducted that show these groups are at greater risk of developing high eye pressure.
After determining that you do have ocular hypertension, your doctor may prescribe you with eye drops meant to lower the pressure as long as their application instructions are followed strictly as well as regularly monitoring whether the condition has improved. If it doesn’t, then they may recommend laser trabeculoplasty and even treatment methods for glaucoma, including glaucoma surgery. In every step, even in the event of eventually developing glaucoma, your ophthalmologist should walk you through the specifics of your condition and the treatment options available to you.