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Ask Dr. Schauer ~ Pressure in my eyes?


“It feels like I’ve been having pressure in my eyes. Does that mean I could have glaucoma?”

Taking a question from a 103.3 US Country listener in Mandan, we should take a step back and talk about What is Glaucoma?


Glaucoma is a collection of eye diseases that result in damage to the optic nerve. This nerve is what “plugs in” to the back of your eye and sends the image to your brain for processing. Remember that your eyes are simply cameras. They are taking picture after picture so that your brain can formulate an image from that information.

There are different types of glaucoma but they all result in damage to the optic nerve. Your peripheral vision (side vision) is the first to be affected. If left untreated, complete blindness will occur.

What does eye pressure have to do with it?

Eye pressure sometimes is a factor in glaucoma but not always. Glaucoma is something that we do not yet 100% understand and there is current ongoing research. We do know that a person can have glaucoma yet their eye pressure is completely normal (this happens in normal-tension glaucoma). The research is currently pointing to a concept called ocular perfusion pressure (OPP). A low OPP means that your optic nerve is not getting enough oxygen in its blood supply, which results in the damage to the optic nerve, causing glaucoma.

There is one type of glaucoma, called angle-closure glaucoma, where the eye pressure will spike extremely high and will occur suddenly. People who experience this type of glaucoma will have sudden vision loss in the affected eye and will often also have nausea and vomiting, along with feeling a strong pressure sensation. It is very apparent there is something wrong!

What about our listener’s question?

For most types of glaucoma, a pressure sensation is actually not felt. So the most likely answer to our listener’s question is NO. Most types of glaucoma do not have any symptoms. There is no pain. No pressure. No discomfort.

This what makes glaucoma so scary! The changes are so slow and gradual over time that the person usually has no idea that they even have it. By the time any peripheral vision changes are noticed, the damage is very severe and extremely progressed. Once damage is done, it is permanent.

The only way that glaucoma can be detected early is through regular yearly eye exams with an optometrist. At Vision Source Mandan, we check for glaucoma during each and every exam. And we also diagnose and treat glaucoma patients on a daily basis.



Top image by Flickr user National Eye Institute (location) used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharelike 4.0 License. Image has been cropped and modified from original. Image rights state commercial use and modifications allowed when image was obtained on 04/18/2017.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.