Kelowna Optometrist Explains: What is Ocular Hypertension?

You may be familiar with the term hypertension, as this is generally used to describe high blood pressure. Ocular hypertension is the medical term used to describe high pressure within the eye. Though the terms sound similar, a person’s blood pressure does not have a direct effect on his or her eye pressure, meaning a person can have high eye pressure (ocular hypertension) while having normal blood pressure.

It is important to note in most cases a person will not be able to tell or feel if they have ocular hypertension. Similar to how many people may walk around with undiagnosed high blood pressure, without proper testing it is very unlikely a person will be able to tell if they ocular hypertension.

Eye Exams: We Check Your Eye Pressure

At iSight Optometry, we check eye pressure at every eye examination. There are several ways to test eye pressure. The most common method to screen for ocular hypertension is the “puff of air test” called non-contact tonometry. The test is quick and no drops are needed to perform this test. Other methods to check eye pressure include Tonopen and contact tonometry in the form of Goldman and Perkin tonometry.

Ocular Tension Can Lead to Glaucoma

Ocular hypertension is important to diagnose as it can progress to glaucoma. Glaucoma is a sight-threatening condition caused when the eye pressure damages the optic nerve. In ocular hypertension, the nerve at the back of the eye remains healthy. In the case of glaucoma, the pressure within the eye starts to press on the individual nerves at the back of the eye, damaging them at the optic nerve and therefore causing visual defects or loss of sight.

We frequently tell patients the optic nerve is similar to the cable connecting the camera to your computer. This cable allows the picture taken by the camera to be uploaded on the computer. If the cable gets damaged, the picture becomes less clear.

What causes Ocular Hypertension?

No one knows exactly what causes ocular hypertension. There is strong evidence that genetics may play a role, so knowing your family history can be helpful. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, may also increase eye pressure.

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist may monitor ocular hypertension or chose to treat the ocular hypertension in cases where there is deemed to be a significant risk for glaucoma. Treatments will be determined on an individual basis but may include specific laser treatment or prescription eye drops to lower the pressure of the eye.

At iSight Optomtery we do more than just update your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription. Our optometrist will perform a full ocular health assessment at each eye examination to keep you seeing well for years to come.

Call iSight Optomentry at 250-860-2020 to book your next eye exam in Kelowna