Can my High Blood Pressure or Hypertension affect my eyes?
What is Hypertensive Retinopathy?
It is damage to the retina and the retinal circulation (Blood vessels) due to systemic hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure). The patients with hypertensive retinopathy will present with virtually no visual symptoms till profound vision loss. They usually report with headache or blurred vision. Hypertension can also damage the choroidal circulation and is responsible for optic and cranial neuropathies. Hypertension may also present in the form of subconjunctival haemorrhages.
How Hypertension affects my eyes?
Systemic hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure greater than 140 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure greater than 90 mm Hg. Most ocular abnormalities are associated with systolic blood pressures greater than 160 mm Hg. Hypertension affects all organs in body where small blood vessels are there like Retina and Kidney. Smaller blood vessels bear the most brunt of raised blood pressure. Diffuse arteriolar narrowing is characteristic of hypertensive retinopathy, this is secondary to vascular constriction in acute hypertension and due to raised cholesterol in chronic hypertension.
What are stages of Hypertensive Retinopathy ?
Retina Changes: Patient has diagnosed hypertension There are no visible retinal vascular abnormalities
Retina Changes:Diffuse arteriolar narrowing is seen, especially in the smaller vessels. Arteriolar calibre is uniform, with no focal constriction
Retina Changes: Arteriolar narrowing is more pronounced, and there can be focal areas of arteriolar constriction
Retina Changes: Focal and diffuse arteriolar narrowing is more obvious and severe Retinal haemorrhages may be present
Retina Changes: All the previously listed abnormalities may be present, along with retinal oedema, hard exudates, and optic disc oedema
Other presentation of Hypertension besides Retinopathy….
Hypertension does not only cause Retinopathy but also associated with several other types of manifestation like Branch Retinal vein/artery occlusion, Central Retinal vein/artery occlusion, Optic disc edema and Macular star in in severe hypertension particularly in young Hypertensives, Pregnant females with malignant Hypertension called as Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia. The latter two may also develop Exudative Retinal Detachment.
Take home message:
• Treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy is to control your blood pressure.
• Get Your blood pressure checked regularly.
• Get baseline Eye / Retina examination once you get detected with Hypertension
• Do not skip your hypertensive medicines without consulting your primary physician
• Have balanced diet to control Blood pressure