High blood pressure isn’t just about your heart. It can cause a variety of problems throughout your entire body, including your vision. Here’s why and what you need to know.
Just like your other organs, your eyes depend on blood flow to work properly. If you have high blood pressure, it can damage the delicate blood vessels that are responsible for transporting nutrient-rich blood to your eyes. This can cause a number of specific eye diseases.
Hypertensive retinopathy: Your retina (which is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye) can become damaged, causing your eye to bleed. Blurred vision and complete vision loss are symptoms of damage to the retina. This condition can be even worse if you have diabetes in addition to high blood pressure (causing diabetic retinopathy).
Choroidopathy: When fluid builds up under the retina due to high blood pressure, your vision may become distorted or impaired. This condition can also cause scarring, which leads to decreased vision.
Optic neuropathy: Damage to the optic nerve can result when blood flow is blocked. This can also lead to bleeding in your eye and loss of vision.
How does high blood pressure fit into your eye exam?
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might be amazed at what your eye doctor can detect during a regular eye exam, just by taking a trained look at those blood vessels in your eye.
One thing your eye doctor is looking for is whether the blood vessels in your retina have become more stiff and hardened and are pushing on each other. He or she will also look for these symptoms:
- Hemorrhaging, or leaking, of the blood vessels
- Narrowing of the blood vessels
- Spots on the retina
- Swelling of the optic nerve
- Swelling of the macula (the central part of the retina)
This is one reason an eye exam is such a vital part of your health care: Rather than just another pair of eyeballs, your eye doctor actually sees you for the entire picture of your health.
Beyond refreshing your glasses or contacts prescription, an eye exam allows your eye doctor to check for visual symptoms of major impending health issues — including heart attack and stroke — that may not otherwise reveal themselves for decades.
What can you do to protect your vision and your whole self in case of high blood pressure?
Early intervention is critical, and routine eye exams are part of that. If you start treating high blood pressure early with a combination of good nutrition, regular exercise, and medication prescribed by your doctor, it improves your entire outlook, limiting the damage to the blood vessels that can cause vision problems.
Are you concerned about the impact of high blood pressure on your vision, or are you experiencing vision problems? Contact us to schedule an eye exam today.