High blood pressure damages the retina (the translucent, light-sensitive structure at the back of the eye), resulting in hypertensive retinopathy. The retina can be injured if blood pressure is too high (a disease known as hypertension). Hypertension affects the walls of the tiny blood vessels of the retina to thicken, minimizing the quantity of blood that can flow through them. As a result, the retina’s blood supply is diminished. Because the blood flow to the retina is insufficient, patches of the retina may be injured.
Blood may flow into the retina as hypertensive retinopathy worsens. These alterations cause progressive vision loss, especially if they impact the macula, which is the core section of the retina. If left untreated for years, even modest hypertension can cause damage to the retinal blood vessels.
The retinal veins can become dilated and twisted, and the optic disk (where the optic nerve meets the retina) might expand
If blood pressure becomes dangerously high (called hypertensive crises) (called papilledema).
Hypertensive Retinopathy Diagnosis
An eye examination by a doctor.
Doctors can view the normal look of the retina in persons with high blood pressure using an ophthalmoscope. The degree of damage to the retinal blood vessels correlates with the amount of damage to blood vessels in other hypertensive organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. Doctors may be able to notice swelling of the optic disk (called papilledema) when blood pressure is excessively high, signaling the need for quick treatment.
Hypertensive Retinopathy Treatment
Treatment options for high blood pressure. The goal of hypertensive retinopathy treatment is to lower blood pressure over time. When high blood pressure is severe and life-threatening, rapid treatment may be required to save vision and prevent other consequences such as stroke, heart failure, renal failure, and heart attack.
Did You Know…
The eye is the only organ in the body where doctors can see arteries and deep veins in real-time (by using an ophthalmoscope). Doctors can assess how hypertension and atherosclerosis have damaged other blood vessels in the body by the appearance of these blood vessels.