Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair




In addition to causing heart and kidney problems, untreated hypertension can also affect your eyesight. Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the area at the back of the eye where images focus. This condition is known as hypertensive retinopathy. The damage can be serious if hypertension is not treated

  • Eye blood vessel damage (retinopathy).
High blood pressure can damage the vessels supplying blood to your retina, causing retinopathy. This condition can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision. If you also have both diabetes and high blood pressure, you're at an even greater risk.
  • Fluid buildup under the retina (choroidopathy).
 In this condition, fluid builds up under your retina because of a leaky blood vessel in a layer of blood vessels located under the retina. Choroidopathy can result in distorted vision or in some cases scarring that impairs vision.
  • Nerve damage (optic neuropathy).
This is a condition in which blocked blood flow damages the optic nerve. It can kill nerve cells in your eyes, which may cause bleeding within your eye or vision loss.

How Is Hypertensive Retinopathy Diagnosed?

An ophthalmologist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy. The professional will use an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that projects light, to examine the back of your eyeball. Signs of retinopathy include:
  • Narrowing of blood vessels
  • Fluid oozing from the blood vessels
  • Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and hard exudates
  • Swelling of the macula and optic nerve
  • Bleeding in the back of the eye
The opthalmologist can also use a test called fluorescein angiography to diagnose retinopathy. With this method, a dye is injected into your vein. When the dye reaches your eye, the doctor takes photographs of the retina to evaluate the circulation to determine if there is any blockage or leakage.

How Is Hypertensive Retinopathy Treated?

The only way to treat hypertensive retinopathy is to have your doctor diagnose and treat the hypertension.

Can Hypertensive Retinopathy Be Prevented?

To prevent hypertensive retinopathy, keep your blood pressure in control by changing your diet, exercising more, and taking your high blood pressure medications. In addition, see your doctor on a regular basis for follow-up care

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