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Learning About Ocular Hypertension

The parts of the eye.

What is ocular hypertension?

The term for pressure inside the eye is intraocular (say "in-truh-AW-kyuh-ler") pressure. This pressure is caused by the fluid in the eye. The fluid helps the eye keep its shape. Sometimes the pressure inside the eye gets too high. Over time, this can damage the optic nerve. High pressure that's caught before this damage occurs is called ocular hypertension.

Damage of the optic nerve can lead to glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the main causes of vision loss. People with high pressure in their eyes may be called "glaucoma suspects."

High pressure in the eyes is more likely to lead to glaucoma in certain people. This includes people who have a family history of glaucoma.

How is it diagnosed?

High pressure in the eye doesn't cause any symptoms. It's usually found during a routine eye exam. This exam includes a test to check the pressure in the eyes.

The doctor will also do tests to check the optic nerve and to look for vision loss.

What can you expect when you have this condition?

An eye doctor will want to do regular eye exams to make sure the pressure inside your eye isn't rising. Be sure to follow the schedule for your exams.

If your risk of glaucoma is high, you may get medicated eyedrops to use every day. It is important to use eyedrops exactly as directed by your doctor.

It's also important to tell your other doctors that you may be at risk for glaucoma. You may need to change or stop taking medicines that could increase pressure in your eyes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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