Medical Q&As

Optician's advice - see my GP - why?

I recently got my eyes tested for new glasses. After examining my eyes my optician advised me to get my blood pressure tested. Earlier this year I had a full medical with an ECG and every thing was ok. I jog regularly and am reasonably fit. Should I be concerned or just get it checked anyway?

Since you were given the all clear earlier this year I certainly donít think you need to worry but I do suggest that you follow the opticians advice. There are certain visible changes on the retina, which is the light sensitive membrane at the back of the eye, that indicate that the blood pressure may be elevated. These changes are detected when the optician looks though your pupil with the aid of a special torch that we call an ophthalmoscope. This instrument allows the examiner to directly inspect the condition of the retinal blood vessels, which are clearly visible on the retina. Certain conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure can cause particular changes to the appearance of the retinal blood vessels. Your optician is being cautious and thorough by suggesting that you have your blood pressure measured. The changes noted were probably very minor and probably non-specific but the optician thought it prudent to suggest you simply have the blood pressure measured just to be sure that it is all right. It is unlikely that your blood pressure has suddenly become elevated in recent months but in view of these minor findings it is reasonable to have it checked again.