Ocular hypertension (OHT) simply means a raised pressure within the eye, although the eye is otherwise healthy. In glaucoma, there is usually high pressure alongside a damaged optic nerve and visual field loss. People with OHT are at increased risk of developing glaucoma, and it is very important for them to be monitored regularly. That way, if glaucoma does start to develop it will be spotted at the earliest possible stage, when treatment is most effective.
Having OHT does not mean your vision is automatically at risk.
If you have OHT, there are several risk factors which make developing glaucoma more likely, including:
Age: Ocular hypertension and glaucoma become much more common with increasing age, especially above the age of 40.
Family history: Any history of glaucoma in a close blood relative leads to an increased risk of developing glaucoma. More information can be found in our leaflet Glaucoma and Your Relatives.
Myopia: Very short sightedness (high myopia) is a risk factor for glaucoma.
Thin cornea: If the cornea (clear outer layer at the front of the eye) is thin, your eyes have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
If you have been diagnosed with ocular hypertension it is important that you have regular eye health checks. These routine examinations may be carried out at the hospital or they may be carried out by a community optometrist.
The eye health check includes these tests:
Ophthalmoscopy: An examination of the optic nerve at the back of the eye with a special torch or slit lamp. Sometimes your clinician may take a picture or a scan of the back of the eye to retain as a record enabling the detection of any future changes.
Tonometry: A measurement of intraocular pressure.
Perimetry or visual field test: A test of the peripheral field of vision (visual field test) to see if there are any signs of sight loss in the off-centre part of the vision which could be a sign of the development of glaucoma.
Not everyone with ocular hypertension needs treatment, but if the risk of development of glaucoma is deemed significant (for example the eye pressure is very high), your doctor may decide that treatment is advisable. If this is the case, the most usual type of treatment is eye drops to control the pressure within the eye. More information on eye drops can be found here. Alternatively, you can order or download our booklet ‘Eye Drops and Dispensing Aids’.
Another treatment option for ocular hypertension is to use a laser to treat the drainage area and improve the outflow, called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). More information on laser treatment can be found here.
If you want to know more about ocular hypertension, our free booklet is a great place to start. You can download a digital edition or order the print version to be delivered to your door.