Hypertensive Retinopathy Explained


Hypertensive retinopathy causes retinal blood vessels to thicken. Your retina is located at the rear of your eye and plays a vital role in the transferring of light to your brain for the processing of images. When you develop hypertensive retinopathy, the blood supply to your retina becomes restricted, and this causes swelling and puts too much pressure on your optical nerve. The condition is caused by high blood pressure, which can occur due to being overweight, consuming too much salt and being exposed to high levels of stress. High blood pressure can also have a hereditary component.

Symptoms Of Hypertensive Retinopathy

Common symptoms associated with hypertensive retinopathy include blurred vision, seeing floaters and flashes in your field of vision and headaches. Some people also develop red patches in the whites of their eyes, and these are caused by blood vessels in your eyes being under too much pressure and bursting. Some people who are diagnosed early with hypertensive retinopathy report having experienced no symptoms, yet damage was still occurring and able to be picked up by their optometrist. This highlights the importance of regular eye tests.

Diagnosing Hypertensive Retinopathy

Your optometrist can detect hypertensive retinopathy when examining your eyes with an ophthalmoscope. This handheld magnifying lens lets the optometrist see clear images of the blood vessels in the rear of your eyes. If your optometrist has any doubts about your diagnosis, you will be referred for a fluorescein angiography. This is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a special dye in your eye to make the blood vessels clearer and allows the blood flow in the rear of your eye to be observed.

Treating Hypertensive Retinopathy

Treating hypertensive retinopathy involves determining the cause of your high blood pressure and treating it. You may need to make some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or learning how to manage stress in a healthy way. Your doctor can refer you to a support service for assistance with lifestyle changes. You may also be prescribed medication, such as ACE inhibitors or beta blockers, which will bring your blood pressure down to within the normal range. Symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy tend to resolve quickly once blood pressure is reduced.

Permanent loss of vision can occur when hypertensive retinopathy is not treated, and there are, of course, other health risks associated with high blood pressure, such as being at an increased risk of having a stroke. Regular eye tests will ensure any problems are picked up quickly, so if you're overdue an eye test, contact your optometrist.


15 June 2023

Maintaining Your Eye Health

If you want to maintain your eye health, it is really important that you have regular check-ups with an optometrist. An optometrist will perform a number of different tests on your eyes. Because I didn't need glasses, I didn't think I had to go to an eye doctor. However, my wife suggested that I book an appointment for a check-up. I did so and I am so pleased I did. It turns out that I had a problem with my eyes which could cause blindness if left untreated. Thankfully, we caught it early enough so I am now fully recovered. I hope this blog helps you to look after your vision.