What is high blood pressure?
The heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body, and the blood vessels carry the flowing blood. Blood pressure is influenced by the health of the heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure is when the flow of the blood is too quick, which makes the heart and blood vessels weaker and damages organs.
How does high blood pressure affect the eyes?
The retina and optic nerve at the back of the eyes are crucial to allowing us to see. High blood pressure results in bleeding, cell damage or swelling at the retina and optic nerve, affecting the vision. This is called hypertensive retinopathy. Over time, this damage can build up and become more problematic. High blood pressure can also cause blood vessels at the front of the eye to burst (sub-conjunctival haemorrhage) or double vision (diplopia). The risk of developing a ‘stroke in the eye,’ glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy also increases in people with high blood pressure.
What is the treatment for hypertensive retinopathy?
The most important factor is to address the underlying issue of high blood pressure. The blood pressure needs to be lowered, with lifestyle changes being made (to diet and exercise) and medication if necessary. Minor eye surgery may be considered for hypertensive retinopathy if appropriate. The other potential eye problems have their own treatment options, and you can click on the links to learn more.
Smoking greatly increases the chances of developing high blood pressure, so don’t smoke!
Useful link: For help with quitting smoking, click here.