High Blood Pressure and Eye Health

Will Having High Blood Pressure Cause Damage to Your Eyesight?

What You Should Know About the Relationship Between High Blood Pressure and Eye Health

0736735001629392649.jpgWe want to help you understand how common medical conditions play an important role in your eye health.  You know having high blood pressure isn’t good for your overall health, but did you know it can damage your eyes? 

Blood pressure measures how hard your blood pushes against blood vessels as it travels throughout your body. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) means there’s resistance from your blood vessels that hinders smooth blood flow. Your heart has to work harder than normal to move blood all around your body.

Tiny blood vessels fill our eyes, and constant stress on them can lead to vision damage. When high blood pressure harms these blood vessels in your eyes, it’s called hypertensive retinopathy.

As your local Phoenix optometrist, we want you to fully enjoy life here in our beautiful city. We know we’re a little partial to linking vision with quality of life, but maintaining great eyesight sure helps, doesn’t it? Today, we’ll be diving into how this condition can impact your vision.

The Cause of Hypertensive Retinopathy and What It Does to Your Eyes

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than just your heart. It can lead to major medical issues like stroke as well as heart disease. Why is this condition so serious?

Because your blood vessels are under constant stress. 

And those blood vessels include the delicate ones in your eyes that supply the retina with oxygen and nutrients. The retina, our eyes’ inner lining, works hard to allow us to see. So a healthy retina keeps your vision in tip-top shape.
When you have high blood pressure, it damages those fragile vessels over time — and can eventually lead to vision trouble.

But the scariest part? You might not even know it. 

  1. Your retina can begin to grow abnormal blood vessels. Rather than new healthy blood vessels, imagine ones that leak fluid and cause vision damage. [1]
  2. Unfortunately, the inside of your eye can even hemorrhage. [1]
  3. By the time you notice symptoms in your vision – some damage has likely already occurred.

Let this be a gentle reminder of one reason why keeping yearly eye appointments are vital to your eye health.

In a compressive eye exam, Dr. Balocca will be able to see (literally!) if your eyes are experiencing stress from high blood pressure. He actively looks for signs of disease (like exudates or narrowing of your blood vessels) because he’s specially trained on this diagnosis.

Dr. Balocca took a special interest in both hypertensive retinopathy and diabetic retinopathy while pursuing his degree in optometry. These diseases can be detrimental to your vision, but you can prevent unnecessary damage with yearly eye exams.

Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatments for Hypertensive Retinopathy

As we mentioned before, many people with hypertensive retinopathy don’t even know it because their vision hasn’t been affected...yet. While no symptoms seem great, this condition going undiagnosed and unchecked can affect your eye health in the long run – which ultimately affects your vision.

When you do experience vision symptoms from this eye disease, you may notice:

  • Double Vision
  • Increase in floaters
  • Headaches
  • Sudden Vision Loss

All are very concerning symptoms and you should have an eye exam with a trained professional. Just like with other diseases, there are stages of hypertensive retinopathy, and your unique case impacts the next course of action.

When looking at the risk factors for hypertensive retinopathy, we really need to look at risk factors for high blood pressure.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure [2]

  • Age
  • Race
  • Family History
  • Overweight or Obesity
  • Using Tobacco
  • Stress
  • High Salt Diet

If you smoke, we know you’ve heard it from every doctor, and you can add us to the list: the best choice for your eye health and overall health is to stop smoking! (We’ll get off our soapbox now. But seriously, get support and do it.)

We’re also aware that ‘stress’ is on this list. Who hasn’t been stressed out recently? While it’s easy to get swept up in worries and strain, it’s important to minimize your stressors and build healthy habits. Reducing stress helps optimize your eye health!

High blood pressure is also a risk factor for other eye conditions like macular degeneration,  glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. All the more reason to stay on top of your overall health too — so you can maintain good vision and enjoy life in sunny Arizona!

Treatments for Hypertensive Retinopathy

You’re probably wondering what happens if you develop this disease and what treatment looks like. It truly depends on the specific damage to your eyes’ blood vessels and how much it’s impacting your daily life.

  • Sometimes, treatment looks like managing your blood pressure with your primary care doctor. Or finding better ways to deal with stress and replacing that cigarette habit (last time we’ll say it!).
  • Other times, you may need to see a retina specialist (a medical doctor trained in eye care). Dr. Balocca will get you in the right hands if this type of treatment is necessary.
    • The two main medical treatments for this disease include injections in the eyes or laser treatment. We know that doesn’t sound very pleasant, but we like to give it to you straight.

Contact Us at Eye on Health For Your Hypertensive Retinopathy Eye Exam

Not knowing if you’re causing damage to your eye health is a scary thought. But rest assured: our optometrist proudly serves the good people of Avondale, Tolleson, and the entire surrounding Phoenix area.

It shouldn’t be a drag going to the eye doctor — and it’s not when you visit Dr. Balocca! He helps you feel comfortable and helps you catch any signs of hypertensive retinopathy with his specialty training.

We can’t stress how important yearly eye exams are – especially if you have underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure. Don’t take a chance on your eyesight when you have a compassionate optometrist who’s eager to help you.

Let us help you keep an Eye on Health. Dr. Balocca will take good care of your eyes, so you can enjoy doing what you love most in our great city of Phoenix!

Don’t Hesitate to Schedule an Appointment with Us Here or Give Us a Call at 480-809-0550


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868#:~:text=High%20blood%20pressure%20can%20damage%20the%20tiny%2C%20delicate%20blood%20vessels,and%20complete%20loss%20of%20vision.
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

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