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How Does Blood Pressure Affect The Eyes?

July 14, 2017

At OCLI, we’re always trying to give you the information you need to keep your eyes healthy, so we thought we’d give you the rundown on how high blood pressure can affect your eyes. 

Your blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of the arteries when your heart pumps. High blood pressure can weaken and damage your blood vessels over time, and it should not be taken lightly. 

Hypertensive Retinopathy

As you might suspect, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, isn’t good for your eyes. It can actually damage the blood vessels in the retina, the part of your eye where images focus.

High blood pressure can cause the walls of the retina’s blood vessels to thicken, narrowing the blood vessels and restricting the flow of blood through them. The retina can become swollen if it isn’t getting enough blood due to the restricted blood vessels.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage your retina and put pressure on your optic nerve, causing issues with vision.


You probably won’t have any symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy in the early going. It can be caught by a regular eye exam, though, which is just another reason to have your eyes checked regularly.

Once the condition has progressed, you may experience reduced vision, double vision and headaches, burst blood vessels, or eye swelling. If you do have high blood pressure and begin experiencing changes in your vision, then you should get medical help immediately.


The treatment for hypertensive retinopathy is aimed at reducing your overall blood pressure. This can include medication, but you’ll likely be directed to make lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure and keep it down in the long run.

  • Eating a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity, reduced sodium intake, and limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption are all steps you can take to help lower your blood pressure. If you do smoke, you should quit as soon as possible. Among the myriad other health risks, smoking puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
  • Stress is also a significant risk factor for high blood pressure, and can be more difficult to eliminate from a lifestyle than other issues. You may not be able to immediately change careers or reduce work-related stress, but there are stress management techniques that can be helpful in reducing the amount of stress that you go through each day.
  • If you are overweight, then take steps to shed some of your extra pounds, as losing weight can also help lower blood pressure. In fact, if you do make the lifestyle changes necessary to lower your blood pressure, you’ll most likely end up losing weight at the same time.

We want all our patients to have the best vision possible, and for many, that means keeping an eye on high blood pressure and taking steps to reduce it. For others looking to improve their vision, LASIK eye surgery may be a good option. So give us a call today and we can schedule a consultation to talk about your options for healthy, clear eyesight.

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