Stay up to date on all things eye disease. Sign up and we’ll send you the latest news, resources, scientific breakthroughs, events, tips, and much more.

Eye Disease: The Basics

  • All
  • Eye Pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic Eye Disease
  • Diabetic Retinopathy

What is eye pressure?

Eye pressure, or ocular pressure, refers to the internal pressure of the eyeball in mm Hg. This ratio defines the relationship between the production of ocular fluid (aqueous humor) and the fluid that flows out through the drainage canal. When a balance cannot be sustained between the production and drainage systems of the eye, dysfunctions or disease can occur. Eye pressure is, for this reason, used as a partial indicator of overall optical health. The typical ocular pressure is between 12 and 22 mm Hg.

What is normal eye pressure?

Eye pressure is a vital component in the overall health of the eye and can be an indicator of ocular disease. In healthy individuals, normal ocular pressure can range from 12 to 22 mm Hg. If ocular pressure is above 22 mm Hg, it is considered high. Ocular hypertension, as high eye pressure is known, is considered a strong risk factor for glaucoma and can cause permanent damage to the eye. Eye pressure can be influenced by a variety of factors including diet, exercise, genetics and age.

What causes pressure in the eye?

The pressure within the eye is defined by the rate of production of aqueous humor (the fluid within the eye) and the rate of drainage of that fluid from the eye through the drainage canal. When eye pressure builds up, it can usually be attributed to one of two factors: Either the drainage canal is failing to drain properly, or there is an excess of production of aqueous humor. The former causal factor is defined medically as glaucoma and is the usual culprit of high ocular pressure, whereas the latter is typically caused by an abnormality or tumor-growth of the ciliary body and far less common.

What causes pressure behind the eyes?

There are many reasons that can give rise to a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. Common causes include sinus pressure, migraine headaches, or increased intraocular pressure. If your symptoms are severe or persist for several days, seek professional medical attention. 

What causes high eye pressure and how can you reduce it?

High intraocular pressure, sometimes called ocular hypertension, is caused by an excess buildup of fluid in the eye. This can be due to an abnormal production of aqueous fluid, improper drainage of the aqueous fluid, eye trauma, or certain eye conditions. A doctor may prescribe eye drops to lower ocular pressure medically, but you can also reduce your high eye pressure with exercise, lowering your stress levels, and cutting back on insulin-spiking foods.

How do you relieve eye pressure?

Light exercise, reducing stress, and decreasing insulin-spiking factors from your diet will all help to naturally reduce the eye or migraine pressure. However, if your IOP is above 22mm Hg, you should seek immediate medical attention, as sustained pressure above that level can cause permanent ocular damage and lead to glaucoma. If you’re unsure about your ocular pressure, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye caused by damage to the optic nerve. The primary cause of glaucoma is poor drainage of fluid through the drainage angle—known as open-angle glaucoma. Another more dangerous form of glaucoma, known as angle-closure glaucoma, occurs when the iris blocks the drainage angle and prevents drainage, thereby building up fluid pressure in the eye and damaging the optic nerve.

Is glaucoma hereditary?

It can be. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma, you and your family members face increased risk. Open-angle glaucoma is a hereditary form of glaucoma and you may be at a four to nine times greater risk of developing glaucoma during your lifetime if you carry the genetic risk. Angle-closure glaucoma is also related to genetic factors. Regular eye exams are an important part of maintaining your optic health, whether you are at risk or not.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Depending on the type of glaucoma, you can experience different symptoms. For acute angle closure glaucoma, symptoms include intense eye pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, a red eye, headache, halos around lights, and blurred vision. Open-angle glaucoma is more likely to involve patchy blind spots in your vision.

How do you get glaucoma?

Vision and optical health are a big concern in the modern age, especially considering the ever-increasing amount of time we spend looking at electronic screens. Despite the popular headlines, the biggest risk factors for serious vision problems and disease are actually still the hereditary risks for diseases like glaucoma. Even so, there are many steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of glaucoma. These include exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight, maintaining a healthy blood pressure level, not smoking, limiting caffeine intake, and getting regular eye exams to detect increased pressure in the eye as soon as it starts to happen.

What does glaucoma look like?

Contrary to popular belief, glaucoma does not usually have obvious visual indicators. Angle-closure glaucoma, which accounts for less than 2% of all prescribed cases, is the only obvious visual indication that a person is suffering from the disease. In this case, the iris of an afflicted individual slips over the drainage angle and blocks the outflow of excess fluid from the eye. However, in the majority of glaucoma cases, the only apparent symptoms are blurred or double vision, abnormal pressure behind the eye, or muted/yellowed colors. 

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Glaucoma is not simply an increase of ocular pressure, but the loss of optical nerve function as a result of heightened intraocular pressure (IOP). Therefore, every case of ocular hypertension is not necessarily glaucoma, but every glaucoma is considered a progressed case of IOP. Glaucoma is only an official diagnosis when heightened inner-eye pressure has caused damage to the optic nerve and doctors see this through digital imaging. 

What is the cause of glaucoma?

The most common form of glaucoma, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, occurs when the drainage angle of the eye fails to properly drain fluid from the eye. This causes an increase of pressure on the optic nerve and can permanently damage vision. Rarer forms of glaucoma cause damage to the optic nerves in a variety of different ways, but all of them involve damage of the optic nerve.

How can you prevent glaucoma?

Glaucoma, a disease of the eye caused by damage to the optic nerve, cannot be definitively prevented. However, with proper treatment and early diagnosis, many of the more severe side effects can be avoided. In addition, exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on an individual’s intraocular pressure and thereby the likelihood of developing glaucoma. Regular eye checks are still the best preventative measure one can take if you are concerned about glaucoma.

Can glaucoma be treated?

When treating glaucoma, your doctor may suggest a variety or combination of treatments including eye drops, surgery or medication. However, damage to the optic nerve is almost always irreversible. Because of this, it’s important to understand your risk factors and to seek immediate medical attention if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

Glaucoma can be treated with a number of methods, the most common being eye drops prescribed by a doctor to reduce pressure. In more severe cases, surgery may be required. Other treatment programs have been developed which include oral medication and non-traditional treatments like marijuana, but these are not widely considered as effective as traditional means.

Can glaucoma be cured?

Once high ocular pressure has progressed to the point that it causes damage to the optic nerve, the damage caused by glaucoma cannot be cured or reversed. However, with proper treatment, high ocular pressure can be significantly reduced before lasting damage happens to the eye. The focus of glaucoma treatment is to reduce the pressure on the optic nerve before permanent damage occurs to the eye.

Can you cure glaucoma naturally?

While most glaucoma cannot be effectively cured, many lifestyle choices and treatment methods are effective in treating the symptoms of glaucoma and preventing damage to the eye. A diet which requires low insulin levels, exercise and some nutrients such as carotenoids have been shown to have a positive impact for glaucoma treatment and prevention.

What is a cataract?

If you are experiencing problems with your vision such as light sensitivity, poor night vision or dulled colors, you may have a cataract. A cataract is a type of visual impairment caused by clouding of the typically clear lens of the eye which distorts light rays entering the eye.  Symptoms of cataracts can range from mild to severe and can be treated with surgery.

Can cataracts cause blindness?

The effects of cataracts can range from mild to severe. Some treatments are effective in slowing the progression of cataracts or preventing further damage, but often the symptoms become worse over time and ultimately can result in total blindness. Cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness.

When should I have cataract surgery?

For those suffering from cataracts, surgery may be an attractive option for restoring healthy vision. However, before undergoing any type of surgery, it is important to understand the risks. A doctor may recommend surgery if cataracts are severely impacting the quality of a patient’s life.

What is cataract surgery?

If you suffer from cataracts, your ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery to restore your vision and improve your daily life. During this procedure, your surgeon will remove your natural, clouded lens and replace it with an artificial, clear lens. This surgery is generally considered an effective treatment method for cataracts, but like all surgeries, it is not without risk. If considering surgery to repair your eyesight, consult with your ophthalmologist and he/she will provide you with further information.

How long does cataract surgery take?

Cataracts can cause severe eyesight complications, and many sufferers seriously consider surgery as an option to restore their vision. Fortunately, cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure and usually does not last more than 15 minutes without complications. However, the surgery is performed under the influence of anesthesia, and a patient should expect the total procedure, including post-surgery recovery time, to take approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

How is cataract surgery done?

Every year, over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery, with a 98% success rate. Cataract surgery is widely considered one of the simplest common medical procedures, as it only takes 15 minutes of actual surgery time. The surgeon removes the clouded lens from the eye and implants an artificial clear lens in its place. These lenses are actually considered superior to natural eye lenses after successful transplantation, as they are immune to infectious disease.

Is cataract surgery safe?

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and boasts a 98% success record.

What should I expect after cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a relatively quick and simple procedure, but it will take a few days before the patient begins noticing improvements in vision. A patient may experience some mild itching and discomfort, but these side effects usually subside after a few days. Follow-up appointments with your ophthalmologist or surgeon will ensure healing is progressing as expected. Usually, the eye will completely heal in about 2 months.

How long after cataract surgery is vision blurry?

For most patients, mild side effects such as blurry vision and itchy eyes subside within a week. Follow ups with your doctor will ensure that your vision is progressing normally. After eight weeks the eye should be fully healed.

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery, fortunately, is considered one of the simplest and lowest risk common surgeries. The most common side effects are blurred vision and irritated sinuses or eyes, which typically subside after three to four days post-surgery. Your doctor will schedule several staggered follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery and by 8 weeks, your vision should be fully recovered.

Can cataracts come back?

Cataracts can only be corrected permanently by the fixation of an artificial lens to the eye, which replaces the clouded afflicted eye. Because of the nature of the disease—a clouding of the natural lens, it is impossible for cataracts to come back. If there are no post-surgical complications, the artificial lenses are widely considered superior alternatives to even clear natural lenses as they are impervious to disease or degradation.

If I have diabetes, am I likely to have diabetic eye disease?

No. The vast majority of people with diabetes do not have eye complications. If diabetes is treated early and well controlled, patients tend to have very good outcomes.

What might it mean if my glasses prescription is constantly changing?

When people with diabetes do not control their blood glucose levels well, they may experience swelling or thinning of the lens of their eyes, which will mean that their glasses prescriptions will be constantly changing. Once they control their blood glucose levels, they should be able to get a prescription that works.

Are cataracts different in people with diabetes?

People with diabetes who do not control their blood glucose levels are at a greater risk of developing cataracts earlier than adults without diabetes. People with diabetes can get a particularly aggressive type of cataract that comes on rather quickly called a Posterior Subcapsular Cataract. People with this type of cataract will experience a glare-like effect in their vision and have trouble reading.

How can I prevent diabetic eye disease?

Preventing diabetic eye disease goes hand-in-hand with preventing diabetic complications in general: maintaining healthy levels of blood glucose and blood pressure are important. Other things that can help are maintaining a good diet and exercise routine and following up with your primary care physician on a regular basis.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Retinopathy is one of the most devastating complications of diabetes. It happens when the blood vessels start to leak fluid into the retina and the retina (the back of the eye) does not work properly. It can get swollen or develop traction from fibrovascular tissue forming in the back of the eye. Retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

There are many treatments for diabetic retinopathy. Most commonly, medications are injected into the eye. Laser treatment can also be done. For the most advanced cases, traditional surgery may be necessary.

How can retinopathy affect my everyday life?

It varies. Some patients may have absolutely no symptoms at all if the retinopathy is relatively mild. But if it is extensive or if the person has bleeding in the eye, their vision may be affected so much that they can’t even see the big “E” on the eye chart.

How can I manage diabetic retinopathy?

The mainstays of managing diabetic retinopathy are regular eye exams, up-to-date glasses prescriptions, and treating other coexisting problems like cataracts. Patients will also want to maintain a healthy diet, implement an exercise regimen, and keep their blood glucose levels and blood pressure under control–the same things that are recommended for anyone with diabetes.

Related Articles

Send this to a friend