May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. High blood pressure (HBP) can cause damage to the heart, but it can also affect many other parts of the body, including the eyes.
The retina is tissue located in the back of your eye that transmits signals along the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets those signals as sight. When blood pressure is too high, the blood vessels in the retina may become narrow, which then restricts blood flow from the retina. This can put pressure on the optic nerve, causing vision problems and may lead to hypertensive retinopathy.
HBP can also lead to optic neuropathy – a condition where blocked blood flow damages the optic nerve. It can kill nerve cells in your eyes, which may cause vision loss or bleeding within your eye.
Another way high blood pressure can affect your eyes is a condition called choroidopathy – a buildup of fluid under the retina. This can result in distorted vision or in some cases scarring that impairs vision.
For your overall health, and to protect your vision, it is best to have your blood pressure checked periodically. If you have HBP, eat a nutritious diet, exercise and follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations.