Eye pressure is a dangerous symptom that often goes unnoticed

July 8, 2014

Unless it’s sharp and sudden, a buildup of pressure in the eye is painless and imperceptible. Yet eye pressure can still be a threat to your visual health.

Eye pressure is a dangerous symptom that often goes unnoticed

A buildup of eye pressure

A buildup of pressure in the eye is most often related to glaucoma.

  • That is why it’s a mistake to only make an appointment with the optometrist if your vision is getting blurry.

It is important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis because some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, do not present readily noticeable symptoms early on.


Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that can eventually cause damage to the optic nerve; the problem is caused by a buildup of eye pressure. This pressure builds up when the fluid that circulates within the eye chamber (the aqueous humor) does not circulate properly.

When the optic nerve is damaged

All the images a person sees are transmitted to the brain by the optic nerve. Advanced glaucoma damages the nerve fibres, irrevocably destroying the optic nerve.

  • If not treated at the earliest onset, glaucoma can cause blindness.

Preventing glaucoma

  • It’s important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis, since only an eye specialist can measure your eye pressure to determine if it’s normal.

A small degree of pressure buildup might not cause damage to the optic nerve; however, it is often an early symptom of glaucoma.

The two main types of glaucoma

1. Open-angle glaucoma

Most people who suffer from open-angle glaucoma—the most common kind—don’t feel any symptoms until their vision is impaired. It’s possible to suffer from this type of glaucoma without even being aware of it. It occurs when the aqueous fluid does not drain properly.

2. Angle-closure glaucoma

Although it only accounts for 10 per cent of all cases, angle-closure glaucoma requires immediate medical attention. Vision loss can occur just a few hours after a glaucoma attack. These attacks are very painful, as the aqueous fluid stops draining from the eye and eye pressure increases sharply. The attack may includethe following symptoms:

  • suddenly blurred vision
  • eye and facial pain
  • extreme sensitivity to light
  • dilation of the pupil
  • nausea or vomiting

Risk factors

People over 50 years of age or of black ancestry are at higher risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma. Family history is also a risk factor.


There is no cure for glaucoma at the present time. It can, however, be managed with eye drops, which help lower eye pressure, or through surgery for more severe cases.

Our vision provides us with 80 per cent of the information we take in from the world around us. That means we have everything to gain by taking care of our eyes. Remember, a single visit to the optometrist could save your eyesight.

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