ZocdocAnswersWhat is normal eye pressure?

Question

What is normal eye pressure?

After a recent eye exam, my doctor said that my eye pressure was high. I don't really understand - the pressure INSIDE my eye? What is a normal pressure? What are the consequences of having your eye pressure run too high in the long term? How do you lower it?

Answer

This is an example of how we as physicians need to do a better job communicating our findings and thought process to our patients. In this case, a high pressure within the eye (known as intraocular pressure) is the principle sign and risk factor for the eye disease glaucoma which is one of the most common causes of blindness. While having high intraocular pressures is the sign of glaucoma, I cannot tell without seeing the actual numbers if you fit the criteria for glaucoma. Normal pressures are about 15 mmHg with some variation. In general pressures above 20 or so puts patients at risk for glaucoma. Over time, the high pressures cause damage to the optic nerve which results in vision loss. In severe cases, glaucoma causes blindness. Glaucoma treatments are eye drops with medications designed to increase the fluid removal from the eye or decreasing fluid production within the eye both of which act to decrease the pressures. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with the physician who told you your pressures inside your eye were high. If this physician was not an ophthalmologist, then you need referral to see one. Make sure to ask exactly what your pressure are and if they warrant treatment. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.