High blood pressure affects an estimated 103 million adults in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). If left untreated, hypertension (high blood pressure) can impact your heart, brain, kidneys, and arteries. But that's not all. Take a look at the eye-hypertension connection and what you need to know about your vision after a high-blood-pressure diagnosis.
Does Hypertension Always Affect Vision?
If left untreated, hypertension can impact vision in many different possible ways. But if your high blood pressure is under control, it's not likely to cause these problems. This makes getting prompt medical attention for hypertensive symptoms, checking your blood pressure regularly, and following your doctor's orders (including taking prescribed medications and making lifestyle changes) necessary.
Along with treating your blood pressure, visiting the eye care professional is an important part of the equation. Routine checkups (set on a schedule that your ophthalmologist or optometrist makes) can reduce the likelihood of permanent vision damage.
How Does High Blood Pressure Impact Vision?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause the following complications with your eye health:
What Can the Eye Doctor Do to Help?
If you have hypertension, the eye doctor can catch potential problems before they serious damage or destroy your vision. This makes scheduling and keeping regular appointments a priority for patients with hypertension.
In most cases, controlled hypertension doesn't require extra or special visits to the eye doctor. Continue to get your vision checked annually, unless your doctor, the ophthalmologist, or the optometrist tells you otherwise. If you have concerns about how often you should have a full eye exam, talk to an eye care professional about your individual situation and needs.
How Does the Eye Doctor Check for Hypertension-Related Problems?
During the exam, the optometry professional will use a specialized tool, an ophthalmoscope, to look into the retina. The light from the ophthalmoscope allows the doctor to see into the back of your eye, checking for narrowing or leaking blood vessels.
This type of exam is non-invasive (meaning nothing goes directly into your eye, other than the light) and won't hurt.
If the eye doctor needs more information or you have an existing eye disorder, you may need a fluorescein angiography. The eye doctor will start by dilating the pupils with drops. Next, they'll take pictures of your inner eye. After taking one round of pictures, the doctor will inject you (in the arm) with a dye called fluorescein.
As the dye moves into your blood vessels and into the retina, the doctor will continue to take pictures of your inner eye. This allows the eye doctor to see changes or leaks in these vessels, which indicate a problem with your eye health.
The sooner you catch hypertension-related eye problems, the less your vision will be affected. Contact Family Eye Care for more information.
Switching to progressive bifocals can be difficult. Some people find that progressive bifocals make them nauseous, while others find that wearing them slows them down as they complete visual tasks. Navigating staircases can also be difficult when you're new to progressive bifocals. These tips can help you with the adjustment process.
1. Go Cold Turkey
You may be tempted at first to flip back and forth between your old glasses and new. If you do this, you may wear your old glasses more than your new progressive bifocals. Wearing your old glasses when the new ones get tiring can just draw out the transition process.
When you get your new glasses, put your old glasses somewhere inaccessible. Do not wear them unless you lose your new glasses or are otherwise instructed by your eye doctor.
2. Wear Your Glasses All the Time
Put your glasses on first thing in the morning, and force yourself to wear them all day long. If your glasses are only intended for certain purposes or at certain times of the day, wear them even when you don't need to, to get used to the sensation of having them on your face.
3. Know When to Take Them Off
New glasses can cause eye strain, especially if those new glasses force you to rethink how you use your eyes and body when conducting daily tasks. If you start to get headaches from using your eyeglasses, take them off until the headache goes away.
If you experience headaches on a regular basis, check in with your eye doctor. Your eye doctor may need to make adjustments to your prescription.
4. Avoid Looking at the Ground
While you adjust to your new glasses, watching the ground while you walk can make you feel nauseous and uncertain on your feet. So keep your eyes up while you walk.
Avoid looking at things that make you feel uncomfortable unless you have a specific reason to do so. Keeping your eyes only on those things that you can look at comfortably will help you through the adjustment period.
5. Hold the Railing When Navigating Stairs
Stairs can be especially tricky for people who are new to progressive bifocals. When looking down, you may glance through the wrong part of your glasses to see that your feet and the stairs are fuzzy. This can be disorienting and may even lead to a fall.
Always hold onto the railing when walking on a staircase for the first few weeks with your new glasses. This measure can prevent you from falling if you do become confused or disoriented.
6. Hold Reading Material at the Right Distance
Your progressive bifocals are meant to correct your vision when you read from a certain distance. Hold papers, books, and screens about 16 to 18 inches from your face, and look at them through the bottom of your glasses.
If the words are unclear, adjust the location of the paper until the text is clear. If you have a hard time finding the sweet spot where text becomes clear through your progressive bifocal lenses, talk to your eye doctor.
7. Get Your Frames Professionally Adjusted
Before leaving the eye doctor with your new eyeglasses, have the frames adjusted by someone at the eye doctor's. Your glasses should feel comfortable on your face, without hugging the backs of your ears or the bridge of your nose too tightly.
Work With Your Eye Doctor for More Suggestions
Making the adjustment to progressive bifocals can take many days. Working with your eye doctor can help ensure that the transition is successful. At Family Eye Care, we're always happy to answer questions from patients who are new to progressive bifocals. To find out more about how you can make the adjustment, contact us today