The Impact of High Blood Pressure on Retinal Health: Hypertensive Retinopathy
Decreased oxygen and blood flow is one of the greatest dangers brought on by high blood pressure. Left untreated, hypertension, another term for high blood pressure, can damage the walls of your arteries causing plaque to harden thereby blocking and preventing blood flow. This can cause devastating health conditions ranging from sexual dysfunction to heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. The impact of high blood pressure on retinal health affects your quality of vision as well. Long term high blood pressure can cut off blood flow and harm the small vessels in your eyes. Fluid can then build up under the retina eventually affecting the optic nerve, the byway from the retina to the brain to interpret the images you see, resulting in blurred, distorted or even lost vision.
Damage to the retina from high blood pressure is called hypertensive retinopathy. Signs of high blood pressure’s effects on the retina are narrowing of tiny blood vessels, thickening of arterioles’ walls, cotton wool spots and tiny red dots called microaneurysms. Blood is pushed with greater force than normal against the artery walls causing disruption in blood flow that damages the lining at the back of the eye. Hypertensive retinopathy develops when long term high blood pressure is not controlled. Symptoms are not noticeable until the advanced stages of development. Hypertensive retinopathy does not only indicate there is a looming problem in the eyes threatening vision, it can also mean that you have blood flow issues in other parts of the body. Because it affects arteries throughout the body that supply blood to major organs, the heart, brain and eyes can all be impacted.
Without treatment, hypertensive retinopathy can lead to gradual vision loss or even blindness, swelling in the retina and retinal detachment when the retina pulls away from the tissue that provides its support. Recovery from hypertensive retinopathy is possible with the management and treatment of lowering blood pressure. Lifestyle changes include maintaining a healthy weight, following a heart healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption and taking prescribed blood pressure medication as necessary.
Yearly checkups are the best way to measure your blood pressure numbers to determine what steps you may need to take. Retinal exams offer a test called tonometry to measure intraocular eye pressure that can determine if you are at risk for glaucoma or any eye health concerns. To learn more, visit WEBSITE. For your appointment call Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 to take proactive steps regarding the impact of high blood pressure on retinal health.