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What Eye Pressure is Safe for Me?

The short answer is that “it’s complicated!” This Q&A addresses some common questions.

What is “normal” eye pressure?

The term “average” eye pressure is preferred over “normal” eye pressure. Most people have eye pressure between 10 and 21 mmHg. However, many people with glaucoma have eye pressure within this range and many people with higher than average eye pressures do not have glaucoma. On the other hand, the risk of glaucoma increases with higher eye pressures, and lowering eye pressure reduces the risk for developing glaucoma and worsening glaucoma.

What is my “real” eye pressure?

Eye pressure is only estimated by our instruments. The thickness and stiffness of the cornea affect pressure measurement. However, research on the impact of eye pressure on glaucoma is based on standard eye pressure readings, and it’s most important to compare eye pressure readings over time.

Can I feel high eye pressure?

Only rarely, if the eye pressure gets extremely high and does so quickly. Usually, glaucoma is a slow process with little to no symptoms.

What is acceptable eye pressure?

An acceptable eye pressure is that which prevents vision loss. This pressure level depends on how severe and how stable the glaucoma damage is, at what pressure level glaucoma damage developed or worsened, and life expectancy. Some doctors set a “target pressure” for each patient. A target pressure may be more of a guideline and not a line in the sand. Risks of lowering eye pressure must be considered.

If my eye pressure is better now, does that mean I’m okay?

Eye pressure goes up and down all the time, more so in people with glaucoma. One lower reading could mean real improvement or just fluctuation. Consistently good pressures and stable glaucoma tests, including visual fields and optic nerve scans, demonstrate that glaucoma is under control.


Article by Mark Werner, MD. Posted on March 21, 2023.

Mark Werner, MD

Mark Werner, MD

Dr. Mark Werner is an ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist caring for patients at Delray Eye Associates in Delray Beach, Florida.