What is the Difference Between Ocular Hypertension and Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye’s optic nerve and is diagnosed when changes to the optic nerve occur. Patients with glaucoma generally have elevated eye pressure. Ocular hypertension refers to when the pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure, is higher than normal without having any optic nerve damage or vision loss.
The best form of protection is prevention. Regular checkups with the ocular hypertension and glaucoma specialists at Normandy Optical can help Michigan patients with early diagnosis. Our ophthalmologists are able to help detect, prevent, monitor, and effectively treat ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Contact us today!
Causes Of Ocular Hypertension
Ocular hypertension can be caused due to there being an imbalance in the production and drainage of fluid in the eye. The aqueous is the fluid that is produced in the eye that fills the front chamber. The aqueous drains through a mesh-work between the cornea and iris so if too much aqueous is continually produced but cannot be drained due to improperly functioning drainage channels, the increased amount of fluid will cause an increase in IOP.
An injury to the eye affecting either the structures involved in drainage or production of the aqueous fluid, certain diseases, and some medications can result in increased IOP. Race, age, and family history play a role as well. African Americans, people over the age of 40, and those with a family history of glaucoma all have increased risk. If a patient has thinner cornea they can be at a greater risk of ocular hypertension and glaucoma.
How Ocular Hypertension Can Lead to Glaucoma
The dangerous buildup of internal eye pressure causes slow, but progressive damage to the optic nerve either by pressing on its microscopic fibers or by reducing the blood flow to them. If ocular hypertension is left untreated some people can progress to actual glaucoma and vision loss. High intraocular pressure (IOP) doesn't always lead directly to glaucoma; however, high IOP is considered an important risk factor for the disease. If a patient has ocular hypertension that means they are a "glaucoma suspect" and may have or may develop glaucoma because of elevated pressure. An eye doctor will want to observe the patient more closely and monitor for the onset of glaucoma.
Prevention and Treatment of Ocular Hypertension
If a patient has ocular hypertension or is a glaucoma suspect then eye drops may be used to reduce the eye pressure. Since ocular hypertension and being a glaucoma suspect increases your risk of glaucoma the condition has to be monitored carefully. Your eye doctor will have to regularly check your IOP to see whether the optic nerve develops any damage. The ophthalmologists and optometrists at Normandy Optical can perform tests such as visual field testing, optic nerve fiber analysis, and direct visualization of the nerve. Regular eye doctor visits will also help gauge the effectiveness of ocular hypertension treatments that are implemented and we can diagnose glaucoma, or rule out any other problems.
If diagnosed with glaucoma, treatment is aimed at trying to lower the eye pressure and could include medicated drops, glaucoma surgery, or a combination of these treatments.
Glaucoma Eye Drops
You may be prescribed one or more of the following glaucoma eye drops:
Prostaglandins - To increase the outflow of aqueous fluid from the eye
Rho-kinase inhibitor - To reduce IOP by increasing aqueous fluid drainage from the eye
Beta-blockers - To slow the production of aqueous in your eye to reduce eye pressure
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors - To reduce the production of fluid in the eye
Alpha-adrenergic agonists - To both reduce aqueous production and increase aqueous drainage
If you need more than one medicine to control your eye pressure, there also are combination glaucoma eye drops.
Surgery can be an effective way of treating glaucoma and preventing further vision loss. Glaucoma surgery will help lower the eye pressure while simultaneously reducing the number of prescription drops that patients must use to control glaucoma. In some cases, surgery can even eliminate the need for drops altogether. Glaucoma surgery can often be combined with one to treat cataracts as well. This can be beneficial and convenient for a variety of older adults suffering from both conditions.
If you hope to catch ocular hypertension and glaucoma early, schedule a consultation with the eye doctors at Normandy Optical as soon as possible. With routine examinations, we can monitor your optic nerve health. For a thorough evaluation, proper diagnosis, and expert treatment contact us today! We have multiple locations around Michigan to conveniently serve you.