Hypertensive Retinopathy

High blood pressure damages the fine blood vessels of the retina. Signs of this damage are the narrowing of the arteries and leakage of blood. Most patients don’t have any symptoms but some may present with decreased vision and headaches. Aim of treatment is to prevent or limit damage to the retina by reducing the high blood pressure. Our Fundus Camera takes amazing pictures of the retina and we will be able to detect any hypertensive changes in your eye.

What Is Hypertensive Retinopathy?

The retina is the tissue layer located in the back of your eye. This layer transforms light into nerve signals that are then sent to the brain for interpretation. When your blood pressure is too high, the retina’s blood vessel walls may thicken. This may cause your blood vessels to become narrow, which then restricts blood from reaching the retina. In some cases, the retina becomes swollen.

Over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to the retina’s blood vessels, limit the retina’s function, and put pressure on the optic nerve, causing vision problems. This condition is called hypertensive retinopathy (HR).

Symptoms of Hypertensive Retinopathy

You probably won’t have any symptoms until the condition has progressed extensively. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • reduced vision
  • eye swelling
  • bursting of a blood vessel
  • double vision accompanied by headaches

Get medical help immediately if your blood pressure is high and you suddenly have changes in your vision.

What Causes Hypertensive Retinopathy?

Prolonged high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the main cause of HR. High blood pressure is a chronic problem in which the force of the blood against your arteries is too high. The force is a result of the blood pumping out of the heart and into the arteries as well as the force created as the heart rests between heartbeats. When the blood moves through the body at a higher pressure, the tissue that makes up the arteries will begin to stretch and will eventually become damaged. This leads to many problems over time.

HR generally occurs after your blood pressure has been consistently high over a prolonged period. Your blood pressure levels can be affected by:

  • a lack of physical activity
  • being overweight
  • eating too much salt
  • a stressful lifestyle

High blood pressure also runs in families.

In the United States, high blood pressure is fairly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States. It’s called a “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms.