Monitoring Your Eye Pressure: The Importance Of Regular Exams

Posted on: 27 August 2015

One reason you need to have regular eye exams, even if you can see well, is so your eye doctor can screen for eye diseases. When you have an exam, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will check your eye pressure. If the findings are high, it may indicate a serious eye condition. Even if your vision is currently unimpaired, you need to to see an eye doctor regularly. 


Your medical professional will check your eye pressure by using a tonometer, a machine that measures eye pressure by blowing a little puff of air onto your eye's surface. This process measures the firmness of the eye and indicates if the internal pressure is too high. The test is painless and is helpful in determining if an eye problem exists. 

Ocular Hypertension

Any reading over 21 indicates a degree of ocular hypertension, a possible indicator of an eye condition. If your IOP, or intraocular pressure, is too high, it can eventually harm your optic nerve and cause glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Patients whose eye pressure continually runs over 21 are considered "glaucon suspect" and are closely watched for signs of glaucoma. 


High eye pressure has several causes, including:

  • Excess aqueous production  - The clear fluid that is in the eye is called the aqueous fluid. If your eye produces too much of this substance, your eye pressure can be too high.
  • Poor drainage - If the aqueous fluid does not drain from your eye quickly enough, your eye pressure can rise to unacceptable levels.
  • Medications - Some medicines such as steroids can contribute to ocular hypertension.
  • Eye injury - Accidents that injure the eye can keep it from draining properly and can cause it to produce too much aqueous fluid. 


Depending on the level of pressure, the doctor may do nothing more than monitor your eyes, providing that you have no other symptoms such as optic nerve damage or an impaired visual field. Your doctor may decide to prescribe eye drops to lower the pressure. If you do develop glaucoma, you should not despair. Various treatments can protect your vision, including medication and certain surgeries. Glaucoma no longer means that you will suffer from blindness or even severely impaired vision.

You should be tested for glaucoma every two to four years before you turn 40, every one to three years from ages 40 to 54, every one to two years from ages 55 to 64, and every six to twelve months after you turn 65. Ocular hypertension does not mean that you will develop the disease, but it does mean that you need to be monitored more closely than someone with normal pressure. Visit an eye doctor, such as those at Coastal Eye Care, regularly to ensure that if you are developing this condition, it is detected early.