Blood Pressure and Eye Health
We have discussed how diabetes can affect the eyes with conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, but did you know that high blood pressure can also affect ocular health? More than 25% of American adults have high blood pressure, and if not properly managed, this condition can result in serious damage to organs throughout the body, including the eyes. Just like diabetes, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eye and can result in retinal changes that may cause vision loss. Continue reading to learn more about how high blood pressure can affect your eyes, and how you can protect your ocular health.
High Blood Pressure and Retinal Health
Ocular changes associated with high blood pressure are usually seen in the retina, which is the neural tissue that lines the back of the eye and receives visual information. The most common ocular sign of high blood pressure is known as hypertensive retinopathy. Similar to diabetic retinopathy, this condition is a result of chronic changes to the blood vessels throughout the retina. In early mild stages, it can cause subtle changes to the shape or size of blood vessels in the retina. As it progresses, it can result in blood leaking into the retina, or can cause areas of ischemic retinal tissue that are deprived of oxygen. In severe cases of hypertensive retinopathy, congested blood vessels can result in swollen optic nerves which can lead to permanent damage. Another ocular manifestation of high blood pressure is called ischemic optic neuropathy. This occurs when high blood pressure has inhibited blood flow to the optic nerve, which is an important structure that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. If blood flow to the optic nerve is blocked for too long, the optic nerve becomes damaged. While cases of ischemic optic neuropathy are completely painless, they can cause vision loss. It may result in blurred vision and/or loss of visual field. Even if ischemic optic neuropathy is immediately diagnosed, there is nothing that can reverse damage to the optic nerve, meaning that vision loss associated with this condition is permanent. Perhaps the most dangerous ocular condition associated with high blood pressure is the increased risk of a retinal vascular occlusion. High blood pressure can result in blockages or blood clots within vessels. When one of the major arteries or veins that supplies the retina is affected by these vascular changes, drastic damage to the retina can result. These unfortunate events can cause sudden-onset vision loss. Depending on which vessel was blocked, there can be a very poor visual prognosis with retinal vascular occlusions.
How to Protect Your Eyes
By properly managing high blood pressure, we can significantly lower the risk of these retinal conditions. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is very important to control the disease by regularly communicating with your primary care doctor and taking any medication as directed. Proper diet and regular exercise are very important to help control high blood pressure and keep your heart and your eyes healthy. By receiving an annual eye exam with a retinal health evaluation, you and your optometrist can assure that your eyes are safe and healthy from any changes associated with high blood pressure.
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At Nittany Eye Associates, you will receive only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctors in the State College, PA and surrounding areas. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists in State College. The next time you need an evaluation for high blood pressure, hypertensive retinopathy and your eyes, be sure to Nittany Eye Associates where we put always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.
154 Hospital Drive, Suite 6 Tyrone, PA 16686