Hypertension is a chronic condition that can cause damage to your vision if it is left untreated. Hypertension can cause circulation problems and damage to the retina, the area of the eye that focuses images, resulting in a condition called hypertensive retinopathy.  The higher your blood pressure rises and the longer it takes you to control your blood pressure, the more at risk your vision becomes and the more severe the damage is likely to be.

Symptoms of Hypertensive Retinopathy:

Most people have no symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy and are not diagnosed with the disease until they have gone to the doctor for an eye exam. It is important to consult your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms that may indicate hypertensive retinopathy:
– Headaches
– Double vision
– Dim vision
– Vision loss

How is Hypertensive Retinopathy Diagnosed?
The eye care doctor can use a test called fluorescein angiography to inject dye into your vein. Once the dye reaches your eye, the eye care professional will photograph the retina and examine circulation to determine whether or not there is any blockage or leakage in the eye.

Your eye doctor uses an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to see the back of the eye. The light will illuminate:
– Narrowing of blood vessels
– Fluid leaking from the blood vessels
– Cotton wool spots and hard exudates on the retina
– Swelling of the macula and optic nerve
– Blood in the back of the eye

Treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy
If your are diagnosed with hypertensive retinopathy, it is very important that you maintain contact with your primary care doctor and continue to control your blood pressure. The sooner the blood pressure is controlled, the more likely your retina will recover. However, in severe cases of hypertensive retinopathy, there is likely to be permanent damage to the optic nerve or macula.

The Prevention of Hypertensive Retinopathy
Some individuals are more susceptible to hypertensive retinopathy than others. In the event that you are at risk for hypertension, you can take precautionary measures to prevent hypertensive retinopathy:
– Control your blood pressure
– Change your diet
– Maintain an exercise regime
– Take all prescribed medications
– See your eye doctor on a regular basis