Frequently Asked Questions

Does increased eye pressure mean that I have glaucoma?

Not necessarily. Increased eye pressure means you are at risk for glaucoma but does not mean you have the disease. A person has glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged. You do not have glaucoma if you have increased eye pressure but no damage to the optic nerve. However, you are at risk. Your eye doctor can help you understand whether you have glaucoma.

Will I develop glaucoma if I have increased eye pressure?

Not necessarily. Not every person with increased eye pressure will develop glaucoma. Some people can tolerate higher eye pressure better than others. Also, a certain level of eye pressure might be too high for one person but normal for another.

Whether or not you develop glaucoma depends on the pressure your optic nerve can tolerate. That's why it is essential to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. It can help your eye doctor determine what level of eye pressure is right for you.

Can I develop glaucoma without increased eye pressure?

Yes. This form of glaucoma is called low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma. It is not as common as open-angle glaucoma.

What can I do to protect my vision?

Studies have shown that the best way to control it is to detect and treat glaucoma before it causes significant vision loss. If any of the risk factors above apply to you, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years.

If you are being treated for glaucoma, take your glaucoma medicine as directed and see your eye doctor regularly.

You also can help protect the vision of family members and friends who might be at high risk for glaucoma. Encourage friends and family at risk to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. Remember that lowering eye pressure in glaucoma's early stages slows the progression of the disease and helps save vision.

How should I use my glaucoma eyedrops?

If your eye doctor gives you eyedrops to treat glaucoma, you must use them exactly as instructed. Correct use of your glaucoma medication can improve its effectiveness and reduce your risk of side effects.

To use your eyedrops, follow these steps:

  • First, wash your hands.
  • Hold the bottle upside down.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Hold the bottle in one hand and place it as close as possible to the eye. Do not touch your eye with the bottle, as this can contaminate the bottle.
  • With the other hand, pull down your lower eyelid. This forms a pocket.
  • Place the prescribed number of drops into the lower eyelid pocket. If you are using more than one eyedrop, wait at least five minutes before applying the second eyedrop.
  • Close your eye or press the corner of the eye nearest to your nose lightly with your finger for at least one minute. Either of these steps keeps the drops in the eye and helps prevent the drops from draining into the tear duct and through the nose, which can increase your risk of side effects.

What can I do if I already have lost some vision from glaucoma?

If you have lost some sight from glaucoma, first see your eye doctor. They can help prevent further vision loss by controlling your glaucoma with treatment.

You can also talk to your eye doctor about low vision services and devices that can help you make the most of your remaining vision. Ask them to refer you to a specialist in low vision.

Many community organizations and agencies offer information about low vision counseling, training, and other special services for people with visual impairments. A nearby school of medicine or optometry might provide standard vision services.