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Uncontrolled or untreated hypertension, apart from causing heart and kidney problems, can also affect your sight.

Hypertensive retinopathy is damage to the retina from high blood pressure. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. The damage can be serious if hypertension is not treated.

Symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy

There are no symptoms until late in the disease and these include

  • Headaches
  • Vision problems – double or dim or sometimes sudden loss of vision.
Signs of hypertensive retinopathy
  • Narrowing of blood vessels
  • Fluid oozing from the blood vessels
  • Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and hard exudates
  • Swelling of the macular and optic nerve
  • Bleeding in the back of the eye
Diagnosis of hypertensive retinopathy

An eye care professional can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy. The professional uses an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that projects light, to examine the back of your eye to check for any of the signs of hypertensive retinopathy.

Treatment of hypertensive retinopathy

The way to treat hypertensive retinopathy is first of all to treat and control the blood pressure. Laser can also be applied to the back of the eye to stop the bleeding.

Hypertensive retinopathy can be prevented by keeping your blood pressure in control. This can be done by;

  • Changing your diet- more fruits and vegetables and also reducing salt intake
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Limit caffeine and alcoholic beverages
  • Losing weight if overweight
  • Taking your blood pressure medications.
  • In addition, you also need to see your doctor on a regular basis for follow up care.