Blood Pressure And Your Health

High Blood Pressure and Blindness 

High blood pressure, more often known as the silent killer’ shows no particular symptoms. It has become a very common medical disorder and a cause of alarm in medical science and public health. Sedentary and stressful lifestyles, smoking, alcohol abuse, excess weight and a faulty diet, all contribute to a potentially dangerous high blood pressure condition.

Prolonged high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, often leads to stroke, heart disease, heart failure, renal damage and eye related disorders. High blood pressure is a community health problem that we cannot afford to ignore.

Due to untreated and prolonged high blood pressure, the tiny blood vessels in the may get damaged resulting in poor eyesight. These vessels are small in size and experience a lot of stress under high blood pressure conditions.

The narrowing of blood vessels limits the supply of oxygen and blood in the eye. The main part of eye that is at risk is the retina, which is the part of the eye that focuses on an image. The delicate tissues and cells of the retina may get damaged because of high blood pressure.  If untreated, hypertension may cause damage, gradual loss of vision or even blindness in extreme cases.

The retina may also become detached due to high blood pressure. Damage to the retinal area of the eye, due to high blood pressure is medically termed as hypertensive retinopathy.

Symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy include:

Narrowing of blood vessels
Swelling of macula (portion on retina) and the optic nerve
Appearance of cotton wool spots (on the retina) and hard exudates
Watery discharge from the blood vessels
Bleeding in the eye

Hypertensive retinopathy can be diagnosed during a regular eye examination. Retinopathy is graded in terms of grades, scaling from 1 to 4.  Persons falling in grade 1 show very few symptoms, but grade 4 retinopathy causes diminished vision, and in severe cases, blindness.