High Blood Pressure
And your eyes
Along with causing heart and kidney problems, untreated high blood pressure can also affect your eyesight and lead to eye disease. Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the area at the back of the eye where images focus. This eye disease is known as hypertensive retinopathy. The damage can be serious if hypertension is not treated.
A person typically won’t experience symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy; it is usually discovered during a routine eye exam. However, symptoms might include headaches and vision problems.
An optometrist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy. Using an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that projects light to examine the back of the eyeball, the doctor will look for signs of retinopathy that include:
Narrowing of blood vessels
Fluid oozing from the blood vessels
Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and exudates
Swelling of the macula (the central area of the retina) and optic nerve
Bleeding in the back of the eye
To prevent hypertensive retinopathy, keep your blood pressure under control by changing your diet, exercising more, and taking your high blood pressure medications as prescribed. In addition, see your doctor and our optometrists on a regular basis for follow-up care.