How to tell if the pressure in your eye is high

Glaucoma isn’t always caused by elevated eye pressure. But it’s a significant risk factor.

Eye pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP), is something that doctors look for as a risk factor for the vision-impairing disease glaucoma. It’s possible to get glaucoma even with normal IOP, but it’s less likely than it is if you have elevated pressure.

Think of it like smoking and lung disease. You may never get lung disease, and you might get it even without smoking, but smoking is a significant risk factor. That’s why IOP is one of the crucial test measurements that an optometrist takes.

Eye pressure and glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. It can result in vision loss and even blindness. It is often caused by a high IOP. The fluid produced in the eye—aqueous humor—exits the eye through spongy tissue known as the trabecular meshwork, or TM.

If the TM is blocked, fluid builds up and the pressure increases. If left untreated, this will gradually damage the optic nerve initially resulting in loss of peripheral vision eventually followed by blindness. Any vision loss that occurs from this problem is irreversible. Therefore, early detection is crucial.

Because glaucoma is asymptomatic in early and moderate stages, a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to catch it early.

Risk factors for glaucoma other than high IOP include:

  • Family history
  • Eye injury
  • Nearsightedness
  • Thin corneas
  • Black ethnicity

Detecting high eye pressure

Eye pressure can only be measured by performing tonometry. The most common form of tonometry is the “air puff” test. However, there are other forms of tonometry as well.

Our doctors have over 75 years of experience in managing glaucoma and many other eye diseases. Don’t be left in the dark. Call us to schedule your comprehensive eye exam today.