If My Intraocular Pressure Is Too High, Could I Have Glaucoma?
Sometimes referred to as the silent thief of sight, glaucoma has the ability to damage your vision permanently. However, it often presents little to no symptoms in its early stages.
Measuring and monitoring the pressure in your eyes is one way your eye doctor can detect glaucoma. Keep reading to find out if high intraocular pressure can be a sign of glaucoma!
What Is Intraocular Pressure?
Intraocular pressure, or IOP, is your eye’s level of internal pressure. Your eyes contain fluid that is constantly being created and draining from the eye.
The flow of the fluid creates a stable pressure in the eye. There is a balance between the new fluid in the eye and the old fluid exiting via the drainage network.
When too much fluid builds up in the eye, your eye’s intraocular pressure can rise. High eye pressure can result from excess fluid or a blockage in the drainage system.
Your eye doctor can measure your intraocular pressure during a comprehensive eye exam. To measure your IOP, your doctor will perform a test called tonometry.
There are many different tonometry methods that eye doctors use to measure IOP. This reading will tell your eye doctor if your eyes are within a normal pressure range.
If the pressure is higher than average, your eye doctor may conduct other tests and look at the back of your eyes for changes in your optic nerve. If your eye doctor suspects that your high eye pressure is due to glaucoma, they can develop a treatment plan to start right away.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries messages to the brain for processing and is a critical component of vision.
Although it can occur at any age, glaucoma is most commonly associated with those over the age of forty. In the early stages, symptoms may not be noticeable.
Many people with glaucoma are unaware they even have it. When left untreated, the first sign of glaucoma is often loss of peripheral vision, primarily through blind spots.
Since the optic nerve plays such an essential role in our ability to see, glaucoma can lead to eventual permanent vision loss. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent vision loss.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is typically a result of abnormally high intraocular pressure. The exact cause will depend on the type of glaucoma that is occurring.
The majority of people with glaucoma have this kind. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle remains open.
However, there is a blockage in the trabecular meshwork instead. The trabecular meshwork is the drainage pathway, where the fluid leaves the eye after traveling through the angle.
This type of glaucoma develops gradually, usually with no pain or other symptoms in its early stages. Because fluid cannot drain properly, it begins to build up in the eye.
This increased intraocular pressure can eventually damage the optic nerve and cause permanent vision loss.
The second kind of this condition is called narrow-angle glaucoma. In this case, the drainage angle is very narrow.
A narrow drainage angle can block the fluid from draining from your eye and cause your eye pressure to increase. Narrow-angle glaucoma is not as common as open-angle glaucoma.
Narrow-angle glaucoma, if developed suddenly, is called angle-closure glaucoma. If you develop angle-closure glaucoma, it is considered a medical emergency.
People may experience eye pain, blurry vision, and nausea when experiencing angle-closure glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss quickly, so it is imperative to seek care if you experience these symptoms.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
It is essential to see your eye doctor for routine eye exams, so they can monitor your eye pressure and create a treatment plan if glaucoma is present. Not everyone with high intraocular pressure will have glaucoma or go on to develop it.
It is, however, a factor that can increase your risk. Due to the disease’s progressive nature, regular eye exams are vital to detect early warning signs.
Otherwise, many patients do not realize they have it until permanent damage occurs. Once glaucoma is diagnosed, eye doctors often prescribe eye drops to lower intraocular pressure back into a normal range.
These eye drops work to decrease fluid production or facilitate the outward flow of fluid. If eye drops are not enough, your eye doctor may recommend a laser procedure to improve fluid drainage.
In some cases, glaucoma surgery may be necessary to lower eye pressure and preserve vision. Traditional surgery is n option that bypasses the blockage by creating a new drainage channel.
Are you behind on your yearly eye exams? Schedule an appointment at Complete EyeCare West in Columbus, OH, today to be screened for glaucoma!