What is ocular hypertension and why is it important?

Written by: Mr Vik Sharma
Published: | Updated: 21/01/2019
Edited by: Bronwen Griffiths

Ocular hypertension (OHT) is the name given to a healthy eye, with normal function, which has a consistently higher intraocular pressure (IOP) than the upper limit of normal. Mr Vik Sharma explains the importance of ocular hypertension and monitoring your eye pressure through eye checks.

What can cause ocular hypertension?

This eye condition can be related to genetics and can run in families. Persistent high IOP can cause glaucoma as well, so monitoring eye pressure is important.  Other causes of high IOP include drugs (steroid use for example), or secondary causes such as inflammation within the eye.


What is considered normal eye pressure?

Eye pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), and normal eye pressure (IOP) is within the range of 10-21 mm Hg. People with above average eye pressure can be at risk from developing glaucoma.


What does it feel like to have ocular hypertension?

Having ocular hypertension is completely asymptomatic and no discomfort is usually felt. Hence, having regular eye health checks is really important as eye pressure can be monitored. 


How is ocular hypertension treated?

Some people with ocular hypertension will only require observation only to ensure no damage is caused, or if they have a very high IOP (above 30 mm Hg). Eyedrops are often prescribed to help lower eye pressure. However, an alternative and safe treatment option is selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) which lowers eye pressure without the need to use eyedrops.

The laser has less side effects than most eyedrops and there is no downtime or immediate aftercare needed after SLT. SLT works by focusing the laser on the drainage tissue in the eyes, which results in improved drainage which over time reduces the IOP. 


Am I at risk from ocular hypertension?

People with a family history of glaucoma or inflammatory diseases in the eye may be at risk from ocular hypertension. In addition, people on steroids should have regular IOP checks to ensure their eye pressure is not over the normal range.


If you would like to have an eye health check, make an appointment with a specialist.

By Mr Vik Sharma

Mr Vik Sharma is extensively trained, and has gained expertise, in lens surgery, glaucoma, eyelid surgery, and retinal treatments, as well as general ophthalmology.

Mr Sharma is a glaucoma specialist who offers new non-penetrating surgical techniques and micro-tube implants, the latest micro-pulse laser treatment, and micro-incision cataract surgery with monofocal and multifocal lens implants.

He is an experienced glaucoma and cataract surgeon, using topical anaesthesia and on-axis phacoemulsification as part of his technique. At LondonOC, he is a consultant ophthalmic surgeon and also clinical director, and has introduced the use of micro-incision phacoemulsification with sub-2mm incision for cataract surgery. This technique reduces trauma to the eye, which leads to faster healing and decreased post-treatment complications.

Since 2007, he has been a holder of a substantive NHS consultant post with the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, Edgware, and Barnet Hospitals, London, where he is the clinical lead in glaucoma.

Mr Sharma is developing a new modern service for patients in North London.

Mr Sharma is a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and a fully accredited consultant on the UK General Medical Council Specialist Register. As well as completing a glaucoma fellowship in London, he has also undergone further training in oculoplastics.

He has authored many ophthalmology chapters in medical texts and in peer-reviewed journals and remains an active member of the medical research field, presenting internationally and locally, discussing research findings and new techniques/treatments.

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