What Is High Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure refers to the pressure of blood within your arteries, which carries blood around your body to vital organs. It is normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day, but when it consistently remains high, you should seek medical advice, as this can lead to serious issues such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
When you get a blood pressure reading, you will get a top systolic blood pressure and a bottom diastolic blood pressure number. Your systolic blood pressure is the highest level your blood pressure hits as blood is pumped around your body, and is an important indication of your risk of heart attack or stroke, while your diastolic blood pressure is the lowest level it reaches between your heart beats.
A normal blood pressure should be no more than 140/90 mmHg. A systolic reading of between 140-180 mmHg and a diastolic reading of between 90-110 mmHg could indicate possible hypertension, whereas a systolic reading higher than 180 mmHg and diastolic reading higher than 110mmHg indicates severe hypertension1.
Retinal Detachment Or Migraines
Seeing a few eye floaters usually isnt a sign of anything serious, but if you notice lightning flashes or darkness in your field of vision, this is a sign of an ocular emergency that warrants immediate medical attention.;
These instantaneous flashes are different than those that are a precursor of a migraine. Sometimes people notice a 20-minute long flickering or sparkling light that expands in size and shrinks back down again, Dr. Stalker explains. That can be the start of an ocular migraine, which may be followed by a headache.
High Blood Pressure And Glaucoma: Is There A Link
One particular condition that has been linked to high blood pressure is glaucoma, in which fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This excess fluid increases the pressure in the eye, which damages the optic nerve, leading to progressive loss of vision.
Blood pressure and glaucoma share a complex relationship. Very high blood pressure can lead to an increase in intraocular pressure , which is one of the main causes of glaucoma.
Low blood pressure is also not desirable, as it can lead to insufficient blood supply to the optic nerve.12 This is an important consideration because over-treatment of hypertension with medications can lead to a situation where the blood pressure is too low and can cause damage to the eye. The key is to avoid extremes of blood pressure and to let your optometrist or ophthalmologist know if youre taking any antihypertensive medications.
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What Is Ocular Hypertension
An increase in blood pressure is called hypertension, and an increase in intraocular pressure is called ocular hypertension.
An eye is considered to have ocular hypertension if intraocular pressure is consistently 21 mm Hg or higher. Although ocular hypertension can affect anyone, it may be more common in persons with certain risk factors.
Ocular hypertension is a risk factor for glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve. In a study published in the European Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found that patients with intraocular hypertension had a higher risk of developing open-angle glaucoma if:
- They had a family history of glaucoma
- They were age 60 or older
- They suffered from axial myopia
- They suffered from arterial hypertension
Although hypertension is a risk factor for glaucoma, you can have higher than average eye pressure and not have glaucoma. Glaucoma typically causes no pain and produces no symptoms, but if left untreated it can eventually affect peripheral vision.
If the condition continues to progress, permanent eye damage and blindness can result.
Hypotony:;When intraocular pressure is less than 8 mm Hg, a person is considered to have hypotony. When eye pressure is too low it can cause problems with vision. The risk of vision problems increases when eye pressure falls below 6 mm Hg, although this number can vary.
Glaucoma With Normal Eye Pressure
Another form of glaucoma is called normal-tension glaucoma. If someone has normal-tension or normal-pressure glaucoma, their eye pressure has never been recorded above 21 mmHg, yet they still have optic nerve damage. Does this mean that their eye pressure has never been greater than 21 mmHg? That is difficult to say since a single eye pressure measurement at any given time on any given day in the ophthalmologists office is a tiny snapshot of what the eye pressure truly is.
Patients who have normal-tension glaucoma are thought to have more susceptible optic nerves, such that even at normal eye pressures the optic nerve slowly degenerates. Moreover, even though the eye pressure is normal, the treatment is the same: lowering the eye pressure through medications, laser, or surgery. Lowering eye pressure in normal tension glaucoma patients was found to slow glaucoma progression in well-designed randomized clinical trials including the Collaborative Normal Tension Glaucoma Study . The CNTGS was the first study of its kind to show that a 30 percent decrease in eye pressure reduced disease progression in patients with normal-tension glaucoma.
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Does High Pressure Adversely Affect Vision
Increased pressure leads to stress of the vessels in the eye and optic nerve. The lumens narrow, because of the heavy load, hemorrhages develop. Swelling of the optic nerve reduces the ability to see normally. In the absence of proper treatment, the effect on vision is exacerbated. The main method of treating retinopathy in the presence of hypertension is the elimination of blood pressure jumps.
How Can Hypertension Affect Your Eyesight
We are aware of the many serious consequences of living with high blood pressure, or hypertension.; Prolonged, untreated hypertension can negatively impact your heart and your kidneys, but how can hypertension affect your eyesight?
High blood pressure can lead to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy and the damage can be very serious if not addressed.
The retina is a layer of tissue located at back of the eye and contains cells that are sensitive to light. These cells trigger nerve impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed. When your blood pressure is too high, the walls of the retina may thicken, which restricts blood flow to the retina and limits its function, resulting in potentially permanent vision problems, including blindness.
A person with hypertensive retinopathy wouldnt typically display any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Possible signs may include:
- Reduced vision
- Bursting of a blood vessel
- Double vision accompanied by headaches
In most cases, an eye specialist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an examination using an instrument called an opthalmoscope to examine the retina. Your doctor will look for signs of narrowing of blood vessels, spots on the retina, swelling or bleeding in the back of the eye.
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Low High Blood Pressure And Vision: How It Affects
Not all hypertensive patients think that pressure and vision are closely related. With hypertension, the first impulse of any person is to get rid of unpleasant symptoms, reduce blood pressure and quickly return to the usual cases. However, a temporary decrease in blood pressure does not relieve hypertension. If the treatment is unsystematic, the disease progresses, and one of the signs of increased hypertension is a decrease in visual function.
High Blood Pressure And Glaucoma
Can high blood pressure cause glaucoma? The research is not conclusive. Doctors know that increased blood pressure results in increased eye pressure, possibly because high blood pressure increases the amount of fluid the eye produces and/or affects the eyes drainage system.
However, even though there is a positive relationship between blood pressure and eye pressure , the effects are not very large. It is estimated that blood pressure needs to increase by 10 mmHg in order to raise the eye pressure 0.26 mmHg. In addition to increasing eye pressure and the possible risk of glaucoma, it is important to keep in mind that high blood pressure can also cause damage to the retina and result in hypertensive retinopathy, which is damage to the retina and retinal circulation.
Finally, of course, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is crucial to treat.
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Can High Blood Pressure Lead To Vision Loss
High blood pressure or hypertension puts you at risk of heart disease, stroke and even vision loss. Around 85 million people suffer from this condition in the United States.
In this post, Park Slope eye care specialists discuss the link between high blood pressure and vision loss.
Eye Conditions Caused by High Blood Pressure
The eyes contain many small blood vessels, which is why having high blood pressure can lead to various eye-related complications. Below are eye conditions that can develop due to hypertension.
1. Retinopathy or Blood Vessel Damage;
This disease is due to a lack of blood flow to the retina. It may lead to blurry vision or complete eyesight loss. Patients who have diabetes and high blood pressure are at higher risk of developing blood vessel damage.
2. Choroidopathy or Fluid Buildup Under the Retina;
Fluid buildup under the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, may cause distorted vision and scarring that affects vision.
3. Optic Neuropathy or Nerve Damage;
Blocked blood flow ca damage the optic nerve and can kill the eyes nerve cells, which may lead to temporary or permanent vision impairment.
Hypertension is one of the major causes of stroke, which can damage the optic nerve or affect the area of the brain that processes images. Visit your eye doctor if youre experiencing any eye discomfort or vision problems.
Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
How Does High Blood Pressure Fit Into Your Eye Exam
Even if you havent been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might be amazed at what your eye doctor can detect during a regular eye exam, just by taking a trained look at those blood vessels in your eye.
One thing your eye doctor is looking for is whether the blood vessels in your retina have become more stiff and hardened and are pushing on each other. He or she will also look for these symptoms:
- Hemorrhaging, or leaking, of the blood vessels
- Narrowing of the blood vessels
- Spots on the retina
- Swelling of the optic nerve
- Swelling of the macula
This is one reason an eye exam is such a vital part of your health care: Rather than just another pair of eyeballs, your eye doctor actually sees you for the entire picture of your health.
Beyond refreshing your glasses or contacts prescription, an eye exam allows your eye doctor to check for visual symptoms of major impending health issues including heart attack and stroke that may not otherwise reveal themselves for decades.
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Are There Any Stages Of Hypertensive Retinopathy
Keith and Wegner have classified hypertensive retinopathy into 4 stages:
Grade I:;In Grade I, there is a mild narrowing of the retinal artery.
Grade II:;They are similar to Grade I, but they are more severe or tighter constrictions of the retinal artery. This is called Arteriovenous .
Grade III:;There are signs of Grade II with retinal oedema, micro aneurysms, cotton wool spots and retinal haemorrhage.
Grade IV:;Has severe signs of Grade III along with optic disc swelling called papilledema and macular oedema.
Symptoms Of Increased Eye Pressure
The symptoms of increased eye pressure can be hard to detect.Some people may notice a slight increase in pressure over time while others feel an intense pain more immediately. Aside from feeling increased pressure in your eyes, you may also notice drainage or even partial vision loss. Pressure usually occurs behind the eyes, but you may also feel it between your eyes.
Eye pressure is often a symptom of glaucoma; however, the two conditions are not the same. Their symptoms can also be similar. For most people with high eye pressure, there is no vision loss present. Because having high eye pressure puts you at an increased risk of glaucoma, you might experience several symptoms together. Most of the time, there are few, if any, symptoms of intraocular eye pressure that is not related to glaucoma.
Here are some possible symptoms to be aware of that may accompany high eye pressure:
- A slight loss of vision
- Vomiting or nausea
- Seeing spots, dots, or circles;
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Is My Blood Pressure Linked To My Eye Pressure
Blood pressure and eye pressure vary independently.; Controlling blood pressure does not mean IOP is controlled. But studies have shown that patients with high blood pressure have an increased risk for glaucoma. Very high blood pressure is not good for glaucoma.
Moderate to very low;blood pressure is also a problem because it is important for the optic nerve to receive sufficient blood flow. Evidence suggests that low ocular perfusion pressure is a strong risk factor for glaucoma. Ocular perfusion pressure is a complex variable that can be considered as the difference between the blood pressure and the eye pressure. If the blood pressure is low and the eye pressure is elevated, blood has difficulty getting into the eye to supply oxygen and important nutrients.
Patients who are taking medication for high blood pressure may actually have their blood pressures dropping to very low levels during the hours they are sleeping. This reduces the amount of blood flow to the eye and optic nerve and may compromise the optic nerve. The role of blood flow in optic nerve damage is the subject of ongoing study. We now understand that in some forms of glaucoma, there is a strong link between glaucoma and reduced blood flow to the optic nerve.
Your eye care professional needs to know about all your medical conditions and the medications you are taking and needs to work with your other doctors to make sure everything is in synch.
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What Causes Pressure Behind The Eyes
Many people want to know what causes eye pressure. Aside from having a headache or a sinus infection, your eye pressure may be caused by a number of factors. Here are some of the most common:
- A scratch on your eye
Its important to rule out glaucoma if you experience regular eye pressure. See an eye doctor right away to have your eyes checked to determine the cause.
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Changes In Eye Pressure Causes And Treatment Options
Intraocular pressure is the tissue pressure within the eye, which is determined by the balance between the production and drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid inside the eye. Slight changes in eye pressure from one season to another or even during the course of a day are normal.
Changes in intraocular pressure can be caused by anatomical problems, inflammation of the eye after trauma or infection, genetic factors, and medication use. Intraocular pressure varies with changes in heart rate or respiration, and may also be affected by exercise and fluid intake.
Alcohol consumption and caffeine use also cause temporary changes in intraocular pressure, as can coughing, vomiting, or straining to lift heavy objects.
A significant change in intraocular pressure that persists and remains untreated can eventually cause vision problems and lead to eye disease. Abnormal intraocular pressures usually dont cause symptoms. For this reason, going to the eye doctor regularly is important, as eye pressure changes can be detected during a routine office visit.
Tests To Detect Changes In Eye Pressure
The test most commonly used to measure intraocular pressure is tonometry, which is often used to screen for glaucoma. A diagnosis of glaucoma will require more than just eye pressure measurement because it is possible to have glaucoma and have normal eye pressure.
If glaucoma is a concern, your eye doctor will also carefully examine your optic nerve for signs of damage.
Your eye doctor may use one of the following tonometry methods to measure intraocular pressure:
- Applanation tonometry
This test measures the amount of force needed to temporarily flatten a part of your cornea. Your eye doctor may put fluorescein, the same dye used during a slit lamp examination, in your eye to make it easier to see.; The tonometer is briefly placed on the cornea to determine eye pressure. Before the test, youll receive anesthetic drops to numb the eye, so you wont feel anything.
- Noncontact tonometry
This test estimates the pressure in your eye using a puff of air. Your doctor will warn you to expect a quick pulse of air, which may be surprising. No instruments will touch your eye, so you wont need an anesthetic.
;If abnormal intraocular pressures are detected, then you may need more specialized tests to determine your risk of developing eye disease. These tests may include ophthalmoscopy, perimetry or visual field testing, pachymetry, and optical coherence tomography.
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What Are The Effects Of High Blood Pressure On The Eye
The effects of high blood pressure on the eye may include vision problems and burst blood vessels. People with high blood pressure often appear to have bloodshot eyes, and this is often directly related to increased flow of blood to the tiny blood vessels inside the eyes. Over time, high blood pressure can cause many to burst and others to appear enlarged and very noticeable. The burst vessels can lead to hypertensive retinopathy, which often causes blurred vision and may eventually result in blindness. People with high blood pressure may also experience severe headaches, which tend to be directly related to the increased flow of blood to the eyes.
To determine whether the effects of high blood pressure on the eye have led to hypertensive retinopathy, an eye doctor must perform an examination. The examination may involve the use of dye under a bright light. This will most likely help the doctor see just how bad the eye damage is. After the examination, an eye doctor will probably diagnose her patient with hypertensive retinopathy if it is present and proceed with discussing treatment options.