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High Blood Pressure: A Risk for Macular Degeneration?
January 19, 2021

High Blood Pressure: A Risk for Macular Degeneration?

Healthy blood pressure is needed to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the eyes as well as to remove toxins and built up waste products. However, high blood pressure or hypertension, if left untreated, over time can cause the blood vessels to narrow and not only can lead to strokes and heart disease, it can increase your risk for several eye conditions, including macular degeneration.

David Boyer, M.D. the author of Macular Degeneration: From Diagnosis to Treatment writes,"For people with uncontrolled hypertension (above 160/95), the risk (of developing macular degeneration) is three times greater than for people with normal blood pressure. Hypertension has also been linked with an increased risk for wet macular degeneration and a more rapid progression of this disease."

High blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including the tiny vessels that supply blood to the retina. This means that hypertension is a systemic disease - a disease that affects the whole body - including our eyes.

Importance of a General Eye Exam

Changes in your retinal blood vessels can be detected during a routine eye exam. Your eye care professional may be able to identify hypertension without even using a blood pressure cuff. Just by looking at the capillaries, hypertension can be diagnosed.

The eye is the only place in the body that allows physicians to actually see and check the condition of your blood vessels without any type of invasive technique. A retinal exam gives the doctor a better view of the retina, the optic nerve and the blood vessels.

The doctor is able to determine the health of your retina and to check for microvascular changes such as thickening or narrowing of the vessels.

Of course you don’t need to just rely on your eye doctor to determine if your blood pressure numbers are creeping up. Knowing your blood pressure numbers and what they mean are important ways to care for your health, to care for your eyes and to reduce your risk of developing wet macular degeneration.

Get more information here on blood pressure readings, understanding your numbers, and ways to lower your high blood pressure:

Understanding Your Blood Pressure Readings and Strategies for Healthier Numbers

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision

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