High blood pressure: 'Hypertensive retinopathy' is a health complication – four signs


    Persistently high blood pressure can cause damage to the retina – a part of the eye that contains millions of light-sensitive cells. When this occurs, you can experience tell-tale signs that something is wrong. According to researchers from Ada Health, hypertensive retinopathy can cause headaches. Another possible indication of the health complication is having double vision.

    How does high blood pressure cause eye issues?

    High blood pressure means the force at which blood is being pumped around the blood vessels is damaging.

    Blood vessels are an internal network that supply blood to all parts of the body.

    When blood vessels become damaged – due to high blood pressure – it can lose its elasticity, causing further health issues.

    Classified as grade one hypertensive retinopathy, the narrowing of the arteries are mild and, generally, no symptoms are present.

    Even stage two of the condition doesn’t typically produce symptoms, even though the arteries have narrowed even more since stage one.

    During stage three of hypertensive retinopathy, signs of retinal damage can be picked up by an eye inspection from an expert.

    Classic signs include retinal haemorrhage (bleeding) and “cotton wool spots”.

    Cotton wool spots are white patches on the retina, and symptoms of the condition might have started to appear.

    By stage four of hypertensive retinopathy, there is swelling of the optic disc and symptoms of the condition will be evident.

    How do ophthalmologists spot hypertensive retinopathy?

    During an eye exam at the opticians, the specialist shines a light into the eye, which allows the optometrist to see any signs of damage.

    If you have hypertensive retinopathy, you need to start controlling your blood pressure more effectively.

    Much-needed interventions will include dietary changes, reducing alcohol intake, taking regular exercise, losing weight, and not smoking.


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