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.