Unfortunately, yes. Suffering from untreated or poorly controlled high blood pressure for a long time can be detrimental to your eyes. Several eye diseases are directly or indirectly caused by high blood pressure (hypertension). Various hypertension-induced eye damages include:
- Hypertensive retinopathy: Retinopathy means damage to the retina. The retina is the pigmented part at the back of the eye where the image is projected and then, transferred to the brain. High blood pressure can cause loss of retinal blood supply and damage to its cells resulting in vision loss.
- Choroidopathy: Choroid is the collection of blood vessels that supplies blood to the retina. Choroidopathy is built up of fluid in the choroid that lies below the retina. This condition typically occurs in young individuals who experience a sudden episode of the spike in blood pressure. This may be seen in preeclampsia (hypertension of pregnancy), renal hypertension, as well as in cases of tumors secreting substances that can cause blood pressure to rise dangerously.
- Optic neuropathy: Damage to the optic nerve (the nerve connecting the retina to the brain) is seen in untreated or poorly controlled high blood pressure. Optic neuropathy may also be seen if hypertension is overtreated causing episodes of low blood pressure. Neuropathy is the most delirious effect of hypertension and can cause permanent blindness.
Hypertension is also a significant risk factor that aggravates already present eye diseases. The presence of untreated hypertension accelerates the progress of diabetic retinopathy. Individuals with hypertension are prone to develop sudden vision loss due to the formation of blood clots in the retinal vein and the retinal artery. In addition, hypertension may hasten the onset of glaucoma (raised pressure within the eye) causing gradual blindness.
What are the symptoms of eye damage due to hypertension?
The eye damage due to hypertension is gradual, and in many cases, it is painless. Hence, individuals may not seek treatment immediately. It is prudent to be vigilant. The following are warning signs of eye disease in individuals with hypertension:
How do you prevent hypertensive eye disease?
Fortunately, early diagnosis and control of hypertension can halt and even reverse the retinopathy of hypertension. It is advised to get a comprehensive eye checkup done when the hypertension is first diagnosed. This comprehensive examination involves screening for visual acuity, eye pressure, and a fundoscopy to examine the condition of the optic nerve and retina. It is advised to repeat the examination annually to identify and treat the problems in time.
In individuals with an added history of diabetic retinopathy, a test known as a fluorescein angiography may be conducted to investigate the blood flow into the retina. This test takes pictures of the back of the eye before and after injection of a special dye (fluorescein). This test allows us to see if the retinal cells are leaky, swollen, or need proper treatment.
Along with this, lifestyle changes can also halt the progression of retinal damage. The following measures might help you if you already have the symptoms:
- Complete cessation of smoking
- Achieving and maintaining your recommended body weight
- Doing regular physical exercises as recommended. Certain exercises like heavy weightlifting may not be suitable for individuals with active eye disease
- Dietary changes with the inclusion of lots of green-, yellow-, purple- and orange-colored fruits and vegetables
- Cessation of alcohol
Blood pressure medicines like ACE inhibitors, diuretics, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers are prescribed to help lower blood pressure levels. These medications also help to allow the healing of the retina and stop further damage to eye cells.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Townsend RR. Ocular Effects of Hypertension. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ocular-effects-of-hypertension
Top Can High Blood Pressure Hurt My Eyes? Related Articles
Blood Pressure PictureThe blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. See a picture of Blood Pressure and learn more about the health topic.
What Foods Can I Eat to Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?What is high blood pressure and how can you lower it? Learn the best foods to help lower your blood pressure immediately.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?High blood pressure (BP) is dangerous. It can lead to many health problems, including heart disease, brain stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, and more.
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure in Minutes?Learn how to lower your high blood pressure quickly and how to better manage this condition.
How Do I Know If I Have High or Low Blood Pressure Numbers?High or low blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions. Learn more about what you should do if your pressure is outside the ideal range.
Lower Your BP ExercisesTrying to lower high blood pressure (hypertension)? Discover exercises good for lowering blood pressure, along with other lifestyle changes and medications to prevent high blood pressure.
What Are Abnormal Blood Pressure Number Ranges?Abnormal blood pressure, especially high blood pressure, is a common issue with no initial symptoms. Learn how to keep your blood pressure in the normal range.
High Blood Pressure SymptomsMost people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. In some patients, symptoms may include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion, sweating, chest pain and vision problems.
What Are the Signs Your Blood Pressure Is Too High?What is high blood pressure, and how do you lower it? Learn the signs of high blood pressure and what to do if your blood pressure numbers go above a healthy range.
What Is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?High blood pressure or hypertension is when the blood pressure readings consistently range from 140 or higher for systolic or 90 or higher for diastolic. Blood pressure readings above 180/120 mmHg are dangerously high and require immediate medical attention.
What Can I Eat To Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?Learn what you can eat to lower your blood pressure to a more healthy level and help you manage hypertension.