Intraocular pressure

Intraocular pressure and glaucoma

Increased IOP is the most important risk factor for glaucoma and, based on epidemiological studies, normal eye pressure varies from 10 mmHg to 21 mmHg in European populations. However the critical IOP level in which glaucoma damage occurs varies among individuals. This depends upon many anatomical/physiological variables that will determine each patient’s susceptibility for the disease.

For example, damage to the optic nerve may occur within the “normal” range IOP – a condition sometimes referred to as “Normal pressure glaucoma” or “Low tension glaucoma”. In most of the cases, patient’s individual characteristics (i.e. structure of the optic nerve head) determine an increased susceptibility to glaucomatous damage, which may occur within IOP levels that would not cause any harm for most individuals. Regardless of whether the IOP is high (i.e. above 21) or not, future glaucoma damage can be prevented by treatments which lower the IOP.

On the other hand, cases with elevated IOP (greater than 21 or 23 mmHg) without optic nerve damage may also occur, and this condition is called “Ocular hypertension”. In these cases, individual characteristics determine a decreased susceptibility to the disease.

Although the Intraocular pressure represents an important part of the puzzle, your ophthalmologist will consider other parts of your eyes exam to establish glaucoma diagnosis and appropriate management.

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Important message for glaucoma patients

It is important for you to get yourself regularly screened for glaucoma. If you have been diagnosed to have glaucoma, effective treatment options are now available and regular treatment and follow up can help you to preserve your vision for your lifetime, avoiding unnecessary fear of going blind.

You can live happily with glaucoma and enjoy an excellent quality of life, particularly if the disease is detected early and treated in time. Always remember that once you have glaucoma, you will have to be under the care of an eye doctor for the rest of your life.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments may become available for glaucoma in the near future.

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