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Can High Blood Pressure Cause Vision Problems?

Can High Blood Pressure Cause Vision Problems?

ANSWER:

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can cause vision problems.

More Info: Because the tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the eye are also impacted by increased blood pressure, they can become damaged due to hypertension.  The nerve cells in the eye that transmit information to the brain can also be damaged by high vessel pressure.  Vision can become blurry, and in severe cases, high blood pressure can cause blindness.

How Does Hypertension Impair Vision?

There are three ways that high blood pressure causes vision impairment: damage to blood vessels, a buildup of fluid under the retina, and optic nerve damage.

Damage to Blood Vessels in the Eye

Hypertension can cause the blood vessels in the eye to bleed or narrow from increased pressure.  This condition, called retinopathy, leads to blurry vision or permanent vision loss.  There are four grades of hypertension retinopathy, known as the Keith-Wagener-Barker (KWB) Grades.  The first grade includes slight narrowing of blood vessels, and the scale increases in severity until grade four, which includes swelling of the optic disk.

Fluid Buildup under Retina

A leaky blood vessel can cause fluid to accumulate underneath the retina.  There is a web of vessels underneath the retina, and when one of them leaks, buildup can happen quickly. This condition, called choroidopathy, can also impair vision and cause permanent damage from scarring.  Scarring on the eye can take the form of Elschnig spots or Siegrist streaks, which are types of retinal detachments.

Nerve Damage

When blood flow is blocked, the optic nerve can become damaged.  The optic nerve converts light information into a type of information the brain can understand, so this nerve is essential to proper vision.  This condition, called optic neuropathy, can kill nerve cells in the eye and cause permanent vision problems.

 

REFERENCES:

“High blood pressure dangers: Hypertension’s effects on the body – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00062/NSECTIONGROUP=2

“Vision Loss and High Blood Pressure.” www.heart.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/WhyBloodPressureMatters/Vision-Loss-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301826_Article.jsp

Bourke, AB;, Karyn , and et al.. “Hypertensive Choroidopathy.” The Journal of Clinical Hypertension 6.8 (2007): 471-472. Print.

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