Did you know that high blood pressure may not only affect your eyes, but your eye test could also help to detect early signs of high blood pressure?

Blood Pressure and Your Eyes

It’s well known that high blood pressure can be serious if untreated leading to several health problems, many of which can be dangerous. 

But high blood pressure doesn’t have any obvious symptoms – according to the British Heart Foundation, high blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in England and as many as 5 million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure –making it silent in its danger.

Did you know that high blood pressure may not only affect your eyes, but your eye test could also help to detect early signs of high blood pressure?

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries – crucial to keep blood flowing around the body.

High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, is when this pressure in your blood vessels becomes unusually high creating extra force pushing against your artery walls and organs.

High blood pressure is serious. If untreated it can lead to heart and circulatory diseases like heart attack or stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, and problems with your sight.

Blood pressure is usually measured using a sphygmomanometer – a digital electronic monitor, connected to an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around your upper arm. Healthy blood pressure should be under 140/90 – highest (systolic) pressure over lowest (diastolic) pressure.

Your GP and some pharmacies can check your blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer, but your optician can also check for signs of high blood pressure with an eye test.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are many factors that can cause high blood pressure and many of them can be addressed with lifestyle changes. 

Common causes of high blood pressure:

–        Being overweight

–        Not exercising enough

–        Smoking

–        Drinking too much alcohol

–        Eating too much salt

–        Stress

A healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating less salt, and introducing stress relieving exercises like yoga can all help to lower your blood pressure back to a safe and healthy level.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, and your blood pressure is considered to be very high, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help lower your blood pressure.

How blood pressure can affect eyes

The eyes contain many tiny blood vessels in the retina which are at risk of damage from high blood pressure. This can lead to blurred vision and even a complete loss of sight.

High blood pressure can affect the eyes and cause hypertensive retinopathy, nerve damage due to poor blood flow, and blockage of the arteries and veins carrying blood to and from the retina. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it has been high, the more severe the damage is likely to be.

Your eyes can give clues to indicate high blood pressure and other serious health problems far beyond the eye. At Optomeyes, we use a state-of-the-art OCT scanner to view up to 80% of your eye to detect eye conditions early. This can help reveal health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

Hypertensive retinopathy

A lack of blood flow to the retina caused by high blood pressure is called hypertensive retinopathy. 

Whilst hypertensive retinopathy may not show symptoms until its late stages, symptoms may include double vision, vision loss, and headaches.

The only treatment for hypertensive retinopathy is to reduce high blood pressure. In most cases, the retina will heal if the blood pressure is controlled to a healthy level.

Keep an eye on your eye health

The earlier eye and health conditions are diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be.

We recommend that you have your eyes scanned by the OCT annually. Check in with us anytime for advice about eye care, or if you have any concerns about the health of your eyes.

Get in touch today to book an eye test in Lee-On-The-Solent or Wickham with one of our experienced optometrists.

Alternatively email lee@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk or wickham@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk and one of the team will call you back to book your appointment.