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High Blood Pressure and Retina Problems

(En español, presione aquí)

 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How can I take care of myself?
 How can I prevent high blood pressure and retina problems?

The retina is the lining at the back of the eye that senses light coming into your eye. The retina has small blood vessels that can be affected if you have high blood pressure that is not well controlled.

If your blood pressure is not treated, it can cause a loss of vision that may be permanent.

What is the cause?

Problems with your retina can happen if your high blood pressure has not been well controlled for a long time, or if your blood pressure suddenly increases. High blood pressure may start out by making the blood vessels in the retina more narrow. As the condition gets worse, you may have bleeding in the retina, and swelling in your optic nerve. The optic nerve sends pictures to the brain.

What are the symptoms?

Early stages may not cause symptoms. As it gets worse, you may have blurry vision or headaches.

How is it diagnosed?

Your eyecare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history, check your blood pressure, and do exams and tests such as:

How is it treated?

If you are diagnosed with retinal problems, you need to work with your healthcare provider to get your blood pressure under control. This may include changing your diet, getting more exercise, and possibly taking medicine. Severe high blood pressure can also damage your heart and kidneys.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Ask your healthcare provider:

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I prevent high blood pressure and retina problems?

Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal and family medical history and your lifestyle habits. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to lower your blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle may help. For example:

Let your eyecare provider know that you have high blood pressure and what medicines you take.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/

healthinformatics info

Reference Sources:

Ryan SJ, ed.Retina, 4th edition.Philadelphia: Mosby, 2005;v1-3.


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Last Modified: 2012-12-31

Last Reviewed: 2012-12-31

Website Updated: March 2014

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Published by RelayHealth. © 2014 RelayHealth and/or one of its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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