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Hypertensive Retinopathy

High Blood Pressure and your Eyes

Untreated high blood pressure can cause heart and kidney problems, but it can also affect your eyesight and lead to eye disease. Hypertension causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The eye disease is called Hypertensive Retinopathy and it can be serious if the high blood pressure is not treated.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypertensive Retinopathy?

In the early stages of hypertensive retinopathy, a person typically won’t experience any symptoms. It is usually discovered during a routine eye exam.
In more advanced cases, symptoms may include double vision, dim vision, vision loss or headaches.

How Is Hypertensive Retinopathy Diagnosed?

An eye doctor can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during a routing eye exam. Signs of retinopathy include:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels and changes in the blood vessel crossing pattern
  • Fluid leaking from the blood vessels
  • Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and exudates
  • Swelling of the macula (the central area of the retina) and optic nerve
  • Bleeding in the back of the eye
How Is Hypertensive Retinopathy Treated?

The best way to treat hypertensive retinopathy is to adequately control your blood pressure.

Can Hypertensive Retinopathy Be Prevented?

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