Symptoms & Diagnosis
Intraocular Pressure means the Pressure in your Eyes. Left untreated, high eye pressure can cause glaucoma and permanent vision loss in some individuals.
Our eyes constantly make a fluid called aqueous humor. As new aqueous flows into your eye, the same amount should drain out through a tiny drainage area. This process keeps pressure in your eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) stable. But if the drain is not working properly, fluid builds up. Pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve.
Our ophthalmologists use a more accurate device that measures pressure by direct contact with the eye.
How Is Eye Pressure Measured?
- Eye drops are put in your eyes to numb them.
- Then the doctor or assistant gently touches the front surface of your eye with a device that glows with a blue light. Other times a different handheld instrument is used.
- Both methods apply a small amount of pressure to the eye.
- This allows your ophthalmologist to measure the pressure inside each eye.
- During this test, it is very helpful to relax and breathe normally.
Each person’s eye pressure is different, and there is no single correct pressure for everyone. Generally, the range for normal pressure is between 10 and 21 mmHg (“mmHg” means “millimeters of mercury,” a scale used to record eye pressure). Our ophthalmologist will determine the eye pressure range that is healthy specifically for you.
The damage caused by glaucoma can’t be reversed. But treatment and regular checkups can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if you catch the disease in its early stages.
Glaucoma is treated by lowering your eye pressure (intraocular pressure). Depending on your situation, your options may include prescription eyedrops, oral medications, laser treatment, surgery or a combination of any of these.
Glaucoma treatment often starts with prescription eyedrops. These can help decrease eye pressure by improving how fluid drains from your eye or by decreasing the amount of fluid your eye makes. Depending on how low your eye pressure needs to be, more than one of the eyedrops below may need to be prescribed.
If eyedrops alone don’t bring your eye pressure down to the desired level, your doctor may also prescribe an oral medication, usually a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. Possible side effects include frequent urination, tingling in the fingers and toes, depression, stomach upset, and kidney stones.
Surgery and other therapies
Other treatment options include laser therapy and various surgical procedures. The following techniques are intended to improve the drainage of fluid within the eye, thereby lowering pressure:
- Laser therapy. Laser trabeculoplasty (truh-BEK-u-low-plas-tee) is an option if you have open-angle glaucoma. It’s done in your doctor’s office. Your doctor uses a small laser beam to open clogged channels in the trabecular meshwork. It may take a few weeks before the full effect of this procedure becomes apparent.
- Filtering surgery. With a surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy (truh-bek-u-LEK-tuh-me), your surgeon creates an opening in the white of the eye (sclera) and removes part of the trabecular meshwork.
- Drainage tubes. In this procedure, your eye surgeon inserts a small tube shunt in your eye to drain away excess fluid to lower your eye pressure.
- Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). Your doctor may suggest a MIGS procedure to lower your eye pressure. These procedures generally require less immediate postoperative care and have less risk than trabeculectomy or installing a drainage device. They are often combined with cataract surgery. There are a number of MIGS techniques available, and your doctor will discuss which procedure may be right for you.
After your procedure, you’ll need to see your doctor for follow-up exams. And you may eventually need to undergo additional procedures if your eye pressure begins to rise or other changes occur in your eye.