Regularly checking your eye pressure is an important way you can help preserve your vision for a lifetime. Elevated eye pressure can occur without symptoms, and is as dangerous to your eyes as hypertension is to your organs. It is often the first sign that you may be developing glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.
Below, the experienced vision care team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons discusses prevention and treatment strategies for this serious condition.
In many cases, it is not clear what causes an imbalance to occur in the production and drainage of aqueous humor, the fluid inside your eye. Pressure builds as the eye creates new fluid and the channels which normally drain the aqueous humor become obstructed or damaged. Once that happens, the effect is similar to the over-inflation of a balloon. There’s no bursting of tissue, but serious damage to the optic nerve can result.
Injury to the eye can trigger this chain of events. Eye trauma can range from a sports injury to a car accident, and if it happens near the eye with sufficient velocity, it can damage those vital drainage channels, setting in motion the rise in pressure. Often there is no obvious injury or damage to the release channels, yet the natural system of drainage unexpectedly stops working.
You are at greater risk for developing ocular hypertension is you are over 40, have thin corneas or have a family history of glaucoma. African Americans also have a statistically higher risk.
Use of steroids, including steroid eye drops that are sometimes prescribed after eye surgery, is also linked to elevated pressure within the eye. In addition, ocular hypertension may suddenly appear with the onset of other eye conditions, such as pseudoexfoliation syndrome, a disease related to age and genetics in which small protein fibers accumulate, clump together and block the free flow of fluid within the eye.
Pigment dispersion syndrome can similarly cause accumulation of drainage-blocking particles in the eye. When this condition occurs, granules of pigment break loose from the iris and obstruct one or more channels. Other causes include the fat deposits associated with corneal arcus. These lipids can increase in number with age, although younger individuals with high cholesterol may also develop corneal arcus.
If you would like to learn more about the risks of elevated eye pressure, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with one of the skilled ophthalmologists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.