Living with ocular hypertension

Ocular hypertension affects between 3 and 5% of people in the UK over 40 (Source: NICE). Although people with ocular hypertension are at higher risk of glaucoma, most people won't develop the eye disease.

Treatment, usually medicated eye drops, often lowers high eye pressure. Combined with regular eye exams to monitor your eye health, this means that having ocular hypertension shouldn't have a big impact on day-to-day life for most people or lead to other vision problems.

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How to manage ocular hypertension

If you've been diagnosed with ocular hypertension (OHT), you'll need to have regular eye exams to monitor your high eye pressure. Having ocular hypertension puts you at increased risk of glaucoma, which can lead to optic nerve damage and visual field defects that cause vision loss. Although this sounds scary, only around 10% of people with ocular hypertension develop glaucoma. Treatment to reduce intraocular pressure is also very effective at slowing or preventing the development of glaucoma in people with ocular hypertension.

You should have regular eye examinations to monitor your ocular hypertension and general eye health. Your optician or ophthalmologist will closely examine your eyes for signs of glaucoma.

Ocular hypertension and driving

You can continue to drive if you have ocular hypertension, as long as your sight is good and meets the DVLA's minimum required standards of visual acuity and field of vision. If you take medicated eyedrops that temporarily affect your vision, for example, blurriness, you should wait until this side effect wears off before driving.

If you develop glaucoma in both eyes, you must notify the DVLA in case the visual field loss it causes can make it unsafe to drive. They may ask you to have a visual field test to confirm if your sight (especially your peripheral vision) is good enough to drive.

Can you work with ocular hypertension?

Ocular hypertension shouldn't stop you from working. You may need time off for follow up appointments with your optician or ophthalmologist, but otherwise, a diagnosis of ocular hypertension shouldn't impact your work life.

People who develop glaucoma are at risk for vision problems and may not be able to drive. This could impact working life, but employers must make reasonable adjustments for people with sight loss. Find out more about living with glaucoma.

Support for ocular hypertension

The biggest change for most people with ocular hypertension will be taking eye drops and having regular eye care check-ups. If you're thought to be at higher risk for developing glaucoma, it's natural to worry about how this could affect your sight. Regular check-ups will closely monitor your eyes, and treatment can help prevent vision loss.

If you develop glaucoma and experience changes to your sight, there is lots of practical advice and support. Find out about making the most of your vision.

Frequently asked questions

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Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 28/07/2022

Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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