What Is Ocular Hypertension

  • Jialu Li Master of Science in Language Sciences (Neuroscience) UCL

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Today, at Klarity, you can find answers to questions about intraocular hypertension. First, you may ask yourself: What is intraocular pressure? What leads to intraocular hypertension? What are the results of untreated intraocular hypertension? And how can you prevent intraocular hypertension?

Intraocular pressure is the pressure inside our eyes, and it measures the force of aqueous humour on the internal surface area of the eye. This fluid is important for keeping the eye healthy and important for vision. This pressure creates an equilibrium between the amount of aqueous humour production and outflow. Sometimes the pressure inside the eye increases leading to intraocular hypertension which leads to glaucoma, loss of vision, and damaged optic nerve.1

The intraocular pressure has a normal range from 11 mmHg to 21 mmHg. This normal range of pressure inside the eye is important for our eye health and for not developing any problems affecting our vision or function of the optic nerve. Therefore, it is important to keep up the balance of the fluids inside the eye so as not to develop ocular hypertension.2

What is intraocular hypertension?

Intraocular hypertension is an increase in the pressure inside the eye above the normal range (21mmHg) with normal optic nerve and no problems in vision.4

This disease develops when the drainage of aqueous humour decreases than production and is trapped inside the eye then becomes a force on the internal surface of the eye and pressure on the optic nerve if we let the pressure increase without treatment that will lead to huge problems in our eye like develop of glaucoma, Uveitis, choroidal detachment and damage to the optic nerve and loss ability of vision.2

The pressure may increase in one eye called unilateral ocular hypertension or increase in both eyes called bilateral ocular hypertension.5

Causes of intraocular pressure5

It occurs when there is high production of the fluids inside the eye or there is a problem in the drainage system found in the anterior chamber angle that locates between the iris and cornea in the front of the eye.

The drainage system can be blocked due to the:

  • The angle of drainage is closed.
  • The chamber angle is open, but the drainage does not work properly.
  • There is something like pigment or protein flacks blocking the drainage angle.
  • Eye cancer can affect any part of the eye. 
  • The eye may be damaged early in life due to harmful things you may 

be exposed to. 

Symptoms of intraocular pressure5

The problem with this condition is that patients do not feel any symptoms, which makes them go to the doctor, which will make the eye deteriorate without feeling.

You may feel eye pain when moving your eyes or touching them, but still, you may not feel that it is a big deal to go to the doctor.

So, routine eye examination is very important to discover this disease and treat it as soon as possible before it causes many more problems to our 


Risk factors for developing intraocular hypertension

There are several risk factors that can lead to the development of ocular hypertension and glaucoma. These risk factors have two types; one can change, and the other can’t be changed. 

Changeable risk factors:6

Intraocular hypertension or glaucoma may develop because of the presence of other conditions, like:

  • Diabetes
  • low and high blood pressure (hypertension and hypotension).
  • Extreme nearsightedness (Myopia)
  • Thinner the cornea.
  • The presence of bleeding in the head of the optic nerve.
  • Pigment dispersion syndrome: the iris of the eye is the coloured part of it. Sometimes, some of its pigment is flacked off, which can bloke the drainage of the fluid.
  • Pseudoexfoliation syndrome(PXF): sometimes protein flakes increase in our organs, including the eye, and these particles can block the drainage system.

Non-changeable risk factors6

  • Your age is above 40 years old.
  • Have a family history of glaucoma or intraocular hypertension.
  • you are black or Hispanic.
  • If you have previous surgeries in the eye or have injuries in the eye.

Diagnosis of ocular hypertension5

During a regular eye examination, if your doctor suspects that you may have ocular hypertension may recommend doing several different types of tests, including:

  • Gonioscopy: This test checks if the drainage system works properly or not.
  • Pachymetry: This test is for measuring cornea thickness.
  • Tonometry: This test measures the pressure inside the eye.
  • Visual field test: This test checks the visual field.
  • Optical coherence tomography: we do that to check the health of the optic nerve.

Treatment for intraocular pressure5

Sometimes, when your doctor discovers the presence of intraocular hypertension may ask you not to do anything but keep a regular eye examination for follow-up.

Or the doctor can give you medication to decrease the production of the fluids inside the eye or increase drainage of it from the chamber angle, this includes drugs like:

  • Prostaglandins: This drug helps in increasing the amount of fluids drained from the eye.
  • Beta-blockers, Alpha-adrenergic agonists, Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and Rho kinase inhibitors: drugs help decrease the production of the fluid

If all that treatment not be effective, may be patient need surgery to open the blockage. Surgeries like: laser trabeculoplasty. 

Prevention of intraocular hypertension5

As there is no cure for intraocular hypertension, and we can’t modify the risk factors, you can modify your life with these tips to keep your eye healthy.

  • Take care of regular examinations for your eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses outside the home, and wear glasses if you work on particles that can harm your eyes.
  • You should be aware of any family history of glaucoma or any other conditions.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in green vegetables and fish for its omega-3.
  • Practice more exercises.
  • Take care of your blood pressure levels and treat your diabetes carefully.
  • Try to get rid of stress by yoga or listening to quiet music. 


Intraocular hypertension is an increase in the pressure inside the eye without the presence of glaucoma or affecting the optic nerve. It is not a serious condition as it is under control but if let without treatment it leads to serious conditions like glaucoma. This condition has no symptoms Therefore,  regular eye examination is important for follow up of the disease so you need to start changing your lifestyle with healthy food and do more exercises and take care of your eye health.


What is the difference between ocular hypertension and glaucoma?7

The presence of Ocular hypertension alone is not considered a disease condition and does not affect our vision, but if not treated, it develops into glaucoma, which is a serious condition that leads to loss of vision.

Is ocular hypertension caused by stress?5

Yes, stress may play a role in developing intraocular hypertension because it affects all the organs in our body, and affects the eyes.

Can ocular hypertension go away?8

No cure for ocular hypertension, but Sometimes we can control it through regular follow-up eye examinations.

Is ocular hypertension serious?5

No, this condition is not serious, but if left without being treated, it becomes serious as it develops glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve, and loss of vision.

Can you have ocular hypertension without glaucoma?8

Not all patients have ocular hypertension develop in glaucoma, but the presence of intraocular hypertension increases the risk of developing glaucoma, so routine and regular eye examination is essential.


  1. Cleveland Clinic [انترنت]. [وثق 23 نوفمبر، 2023]. Eye (Intraocular) pressure: what it is & how it’s measured. موجود في: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/24552-eye-intraocular-pressure
  2. Machiele R, Motlagh M, Patel BC. Intraocular pressure. في: StatPearls [انترنت]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [وثق 24 نوفمبر، 2023]. موجود في: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532237/
  3. Intraocular pressure - an overview | sciencedirect topics [انترنت]. [وثق 24 نوفمبر، 2023]. موجود في: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/intraocular-pressure
  4. Jonas JB, Wang N, Wang YX, You QS, Yang D, Xu L. Ocular hypertension: general characteristics and estimated cerebrospinal fluid pressure. The beijing eye study 2011. PLoS One [انترنت]. 2 يوليو، 2014 [وثق 24 نوفمبر، 2023];9(7):e100533. موجود في: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4079553/
  5. Cleveland Clinic [انترنت]. [وثق 24 نوفمبر، 2023]. Ocular hypertension: causes, symptoms & treatment. موجود في: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24621-ocular-hypertension
  6. Coleman AL, Kodjebacheva G. Risk factors for glaucoma needing more attention. Open Ophthalmol J [انترنت]. 17 سبتمبر، 2009 [وثق 24 نوفمبر، 2023];3:38–42. موجود في: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759104/.
  7. American Academy of Ophthalmology [انترنت]. 2023 [وثق 25 نوفمبر، 2023]. What is ocular hypertension? موجود في: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-ocular-hypertension
  8. Ocular hypertension [انترنت]. [وثق 25 نوفمبر، 2023]. موجود في: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/ocular-hypertension?sso=y#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20cure%20for%20ocular%20hypertension.

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Sara Moheb Foad

BPharm, Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt

Sara graduated from the faculty of pharmacy at Cairo University and then earned a pharmacovigilance diploma after that found my passion in writing and translation, especially in the medical field so started taking courses in both of them. After that, I gained several years of experience in medical writing in both English and Arabic language.

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