Medical Q&As

High bood pressure - eye changes?

I had my eyes tested and the tester told me that the vein and artery around my eyes were showing signs of high blood pressure and that I should see my doctor. Is this something to worry about?

The opticianís observations may or may not be of any great significance but it would be wise to follow up on the advice you have been given and visit your GP. There is a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy, which means that changes have taken place on the retina or light sensitive part of the eye that are due to hypertension or high blood pressure. When we look through the pupil with an ophthalmoscope it is possible to see the arteries and veins quite clearly on the retina. If a person has hypertension various changes may be seen that can range from very mild and relatively insignificant changes to grossly abnormal changes that could have implications for sight. These latter changes are relatively rare. The changes in the arteries and veins are directly due to the increased pressure of blood within the blood vessels. Clearly you have a very good optician who has been very diligent in referring you to your GP. The first step your GP is likely to take is to measure your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is normal and the eye changes are minimal the matter can probably left at that. However, if your blood pressure is high you may need treatment but usually you donít need additional treatment for the eye changes unless they are severe.