What Causes High Eye Pressure and How to Reduce It

Written By: Adara Ofitserova

When pressure begins to build in the eyes, it can lead to serious complications, including optic nerve damage and eventual vision loss. Unfortunately, many people do not know they have high eye pressure because it can only be detected by a doctor using a special instrument called a tonometer.

While some symptoms can develop with intraocular pressure, this is mostly a silent condition, which is why its effects can be so devastating.

What is Ocular Hypertension?

Most people know about high blood pressure, often called hypertension, but they may not know you can develop high pressure in your eyes, a condition called ocular hypertension. When elevated eye pressure is present, it can sometimes lead to conditions like glaucoma.

Eye pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury. Normal eye pressure ranges from 10 to 21 mm Hg.

What Causes Increased Intraocular Pressure?

There are five reasons people develop increased eye pressure that leads to a diagnosis of ocular hypertension.

Increased Aqueous Humor

Aqueous humor is the fluid that sits behind the iris. It also keeps the eyes bathed, delivers oxygen to the lenses, and helps maintain pressure and good eye health. This fluid drains through the trabecular meshwork.

Some people develop too much fluid and the body cannot drain it quickly enough. When this happens, elevated eye pressure results. In severe cases, vision loss can occur.

Slow Aqueous Drainage 

Sometimes, people suffer from high eye pressure because the fluid in their eyes does not drain quickly enough. The elevated pressure resulting from slow drainage can lead to intraocular pressures that cause damage to the optic nerves.

Eye Trauma

Certain eye injuries can lead to an increase in fluid and pressure or a decrease in drainage. When doctors make an ocular hypertension diagnosis, they will ask the patient about any recent eye injuries that may have occurred.

Certain Medications 

Some medications, including steroids, can lead to increased eye pressure. Steroid eye drops and other prescription eye drops will sometimes cause temporary ocular hypertension.

Certain Eye Conditions 

Some eye health issues can lead to people developing eye pressure. Pigment dispersion syndrome, pseudoexfoliation syndrome, and corneal arcus can lead to increased eye pressure.

Who is at Risk?

Around 10% of adults over 40 have an eye pressure level over 21 mm Hg, and some begin developing glaucoma.

The following risk factors also apply:

  • Diabetes
  • Race and family history
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Eye disease
  • Taking certain oral medications


What are the Symptoms?

Visiting your eye doctor is the only way to tell for sure if you have a problem with eye pressure, but there are also some symptoms you should monitor.

  • You see halos around any objects in your vision, including peripheral vision.
  • With high eye pressure, you may begin to develop blurry vision.
  • Some people experience a feeling of increased pressure and strain when they have eye diseases that lead to high eye pressure.
  • People sometimes have throbbing eye pain from ocular hypertension.
  • Some people also experience eye redness and thin central corneas.

How is Intraocular Pressure Treated?

Should you experience any of the above, we urge you to visit the eye doctor immediately. The drainage system of your eyes could be impacted. Your doctor can prescribe special eye drops to reduce eye pressure and give you relief from the excess fluid.

With the right medical treatment, aqueous production can be reduced. Eye doctors can also drain fluid from the eyes. Reducing the amount of watery fluid in your eyes can help with decreasing pressure.

Reduce the Risks of Developing High Eye Pressure and Glaucoma

If you have been diagnosed with high eye pressure or simply want to reduce the risks, there are some things that you can do at home. These lifestyle tips can improve your recovery outlook so you do not develop glaucoma.

These steps can control high eye pressure, in addition to treatments provided by an eye doctor who follows the guidelines set forth by the Glaucoma Research Foundation for high intraocular pressure:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Decrease eye pressure by keeping blood pressure under control to protect your optic nerve.
  • Try to avoid steroidal eye drops unless they are necessary.
  • Limit caffeine consumption.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get your annual eye exam from your eye doctor to check your optic nerve.
  • Take herbal supplements like Gingko Biloba.

FAQ About High Eye Pressure

The following are some frequent questions we receive:

How Can I Lower My Eye Pressure Naturally? 

Try to keep your blood pressure and diabetes under control. Eat healthily and exercise. Avoid caffeine.

What is the Fastest Way to Relieve Eye Pressure? 

If you are a glaucoma suspect, the doctor will perform testing and will likely administer eye drops. In severe cases, eye surgery sometimes becomes necessary. Surgery creates an alternate drainage angle through laser therapy.

What Causes Eye Pressure to Go Up? High Blood Pressure? 

Eye pressure can go up when an actual injury takes place, because of medications, increased eye fluid, or improper drainage. People with high BP may develop high eye pressure.

Final Thoughts

Getting diagnosed with high eye pressure can be frightening, but it does not necessarily mean you will get glaucoma. With treatment, your doctor can bring the pressure under control and protect your vision.

Published on: April 3, 2023
Last Updated: April 3, 2023

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