Don't Neglect Mammograms out of Fear

High Intraocular Pressure: Should You Be Worried?

When you go to the eye doctor for your annual checkup, they usually administer the air puff test in which a puff of air is propelled towards your eye. The degree to which your eye resists this puff of air tells your eye doctor your intraocular pressure. If you've been told you have high intraocular pressure, you may be a bit concerned. Here's a closer look at what this remark means and how your eye doctor may go about determining the cause of your high intraocular pressure.

What is intraocular pressure?

Intraocular pressure is the pressure inside of your eye. The more fluid there is inside your eye, the higher the pressure. So, if your eyes contain too much fluid, your intraocular pressure will be higher. Normal eye pressure is between 12 and 22 mmHg, so if your reading is above 22 mmHg, your eye doctor will consider you to have high intraocular pressure.

Why is high intraocular pressure a concern?

High intraocular pressure is not a major issue in and of itself. However, many people with high intraocular pressure have an eye condition called glaucoma. So the high pressure causes your eye doctor to look for other signs of this condition. Many people have increased eye pressure but do not have glaucoma, but most glaucoma patients do have high eye pressure.

What tests will your eye doctor order?

Your eye doctor will probably ask you to return for a second appointment so he or she can test you for glaucoma. Testing for glaucoma involves a number of procedures. Your eyes will be dilated with a special medication (don't worry, this does not hurt), and then your eye doctor will use a special microscope device to look at the back of your eye. He or she will be looking specifically at the optic nerve. If the optic nerve shows any signs of deterioration, you'll be diagnosed with glaucoma. You will also be asked to look at a series of images and tell your eye doctor what you see; this helps determine the extent of your glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

If left untreated, glaucoma will lead to progressive blindness. The good news is that if it is caught early, there are medications you can take to keep it from progressing. These medications may be in the form of pills or eye drops, depending on your needs.

Don't panic because your eye doctor discovers that you have high intraocular pressure. While this can be a marker of glaucoma, it does not always mean you have the condition. Additional tests will determine whether or not you should be concerned.

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