How Can Hypertension Affect Your Eyesight?

We are aware of the many serious consequences of living with high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Prolonged, untreated hypertension can negatively impact your heart and your kidneys, but how can hypertension affect your eyesight?

High blood pressure can lead to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy and the damage can be very serious if not addressed.

Eye close upThe retina is a layer of tissue located at back of the eye and contains cells that are sensitive to light. These cells trigger nerve impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed. When your blood pressure is too high, the walls of the retina may thicken, which restricts blood flow to the retina and limits its function, resulting in potentially permanent vision problems, including blindness.

A person with hypertensive retinopathy wouldn’t typically display any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Possible signs may include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Eye swelling
  • Bursting of a blood vessel
  • Double vision accompanied by headaches

In most cases, an eye specialist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an examination using an instrument called an opthalmoscope to examine the retina. Your doctor will look for signs of narrowing of blood vessels, spots on the retina, swelling or bleeding in the back of the eye.

Effective treatment for hypertensive retinopathy involves controlling your blood pressure. This can be done through medication and lifestyle changes. Most importantly, doctors recommend maintaining an ideal body weight, eating and healthy diet and exercising regularly as methods to lower your blood pressure.

If you are living with high blood pressure, or if you think you are, see a doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.