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Glaucoma is defined as a chronic optic nerve disease characterized by loss of healthy nerve tissue. Does that definition sound strange to you? Many patients may be saying, “I thought glaucoma was high eye pressure.” We did such a good job communicating how important it is to have your eye pressure checked that many people started to equate glaucoma with high eye pressure. Indeed, high eye pressure is a risk factor for the development of glaucoma. But long term studies have proven that many people with elevated intraocular pressure may never develop glaucoma. Here are a few basics that you need to know about intraocular pressure (IOP). First, we each have a “normal” intraocular pressure. Much like you should have a good idea of what your normal blood pressure is, it’s a good idea to know what your normal eye pressure is. The average eye pressure measured is 16 mm Hg. A general range of normal is in the neighborhood of 12 - 22 mm Hg. Eye doctors start to take notice when the eye pressure gets to 20 or above. This stems from our early training where eye pressure was so important in the evaluation.
While it is still important, it is far more necessary for us to look at other factors such as the health of the optic nerve before determining if the eye pressure is a problem for patients. Our minimum standards ask for glaucoma suspects to have their eye pressure checked once per year. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, our minimum protocols require two times per year. As always, please call or email us with questions.