What causes high pressure in the eye?

Women who suffer from high pressure in the eye


Very little is known about intraocular pressure. Well, in terms of a layman, it refers to the build-up of pressure inside the eye. Yes, that’s right – other than blood pressure that is known to all and sundry, the pressure inside our eyes can also spike up. Of course, it leads to serious consequences if left untreated. Glaucoma for instance and in worst cases, a permanent loss of vision. Typically, the condition is termed as ocular hypertension. It is measured in millimeters mercury, that is “mm Hg”. Ideally, the pressure in the human eye should range in between 10-21 mm Hg. When the pressure spikes up to more than 21 mm Hg, it paves way for ocular hypertension.

Definition of this optical disorder has been evolving ever since. Definition of ocular hypertension is now based on the following criteria.

  • The optic nerve seems to remain completely normal.
  •  The tonometer is the only instrument used for measuring the pressure inside the eye. If the increased pressure of more than 21 mm Hg is observed in one or both the eyes, the condition can be termed as ocular hypertension.
  •  There is a compulsory test prescribed. It is known as ‘Visual Field Testing’. This is done to take note of the patient’s peripheral or side vision. During this test, no signs of glaucoma should be observable.
  •  For better analysis and clearer understanding of potential causes of high eye pressure, the drainage system or angle in the eye is carefully taken note of. This is done using a procedure called “gonioscopy”. Special contact lenses are used for the purpose to examine whether the drainage angles or channels in the eye are open, narrowed or completely shut.
  • No signs of any other ocular diseases should be present. Sometimes, a disease might amp up the pressure in the eye.

What are the possible causes of increased pressure in the eye?

  1. Sinus Infection – Sinusitis is a condition that pops up when threatening viruses and bacteria thrive in the little space behind the eyes, nose, and cheeks. Of course, these germs contribute to the sinuses being swelled up and the nose fills in with mucus. The pressure henceforth is not just felt in the upper part of the face but also in and behind the eye. Additional syndromes of sinusitis might include a cough, fever, stuffed nose, fatigue, headache and discharge of dense mucus which might be yellow or green in color.
  2. Optic Neuritis – Lupus and multiple sclerosis are some of the common autoimmune diseases of the eye. They cause terrible swelling, pain, and inflammation behind the eye. This obviously casts harm on the optic nerve. Are you aware of the role these nerves? Well, it helps transmit information from the eyes to the brain. The condition optic neuritis aggravates the feel of pain behind your eye. That’s not it! You might lose color vision and side vision or put up with excruciating ache when moving your eyes. Loss of vision in one eye is also a prominent symptom. Lastly, movement of the eyes might help you sense flashing lights.
  3. A headache – It certainly is one of the most underrated causes of ocular hypertension. Little did you know that headache can be classified into two types – tension aches and cluster aches. The former one is common affecting a good 80% of people. The later one though is terribly excruciating popping up frequently. Apart from the feeling of pain and tightness in the head, people targeted with the condition can also be prone to red and teary eyes. Swelling on the side of the face, soreness of muscles in the neck and shoulder and heavy dropping eyelid are associated symptoms with a cluster headache.
  4. Pain in the teeth Springs up as a surprising and weird cause, right? A problem with jaw alignment and your bite can build up tension in the face muscles. This directly leads to a headache, inducing a feeling of pressure and pain in the back of your eye.
  5. Grave’s Disease – Bulging eyes, puffy lids, pain and redness in the eyes and sometimes vision loss, these are all categorized as prominent symptoms of the infamous autoimmune disorder called ‘Grave’s Disease’. When struck with the condition, it first battles the thyroid gland. The gland starts pumping out more hormone when attacked. This casts an ugly spell on the eye muscles, causing it to bulge and spike up pressure behind the eye. In fact, the symptoms get even worse when there is movement in the eye.

Sometimes, the causes of ocular hypertension are also reckoned similar like the causes of glaucoma. Some of these include:

  1. Surplus Aqueous Secretion – Are you versed about aqueous humor? It is a clear fluid secreted by the ciliary bodies, located right behind the iris in the eye. The fluid is present in the anterior chambers of the eye, including the pupil. It also passes through a trabecular meshwork, located in the junction where the cornea and the iris meet. Too much of aqueous drainage intensify pressure in the eye, causing ocular hypertension.
  2. Trauma – A sudden injury to the eye disturbs the balance of aqueous production in the eye.
  3. Medications – Steroid based eye drops have a nasty effect on the eye. Though it is prescribed as an immediate solution post-surgery, overuse of the same can lead to hypertension and even loss of vision.

How would you take note of the disorder?

Unlike other disorders, ocular hypertension rarely comes up with a set of symptoms like red eyes or terrible pain. However, getting diagnosed with an eyecare practitioner is recommended if you put up with the slightest of discomfort or heaviness in the eyes. The IOP is measured and the condition is therefore tracked, if the report spells out levels more than 21 mm Hg.

The amplified pressure in the eye must be diagnosed and treated before it advances to the stage of glaucoma.