High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is a condition defined by long-term high
pressure within the blood vessels. Left uncontrolled, it can cause damage to arterial blood
vessel walls and ultimately lead to a number of different health problems, including heart
disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 adults (or
approximately 75 million people) in the U.S. currently live with high blood pressure [1].

Figure 1. The American Heart Association’s high blood pressure guidelines [2].

Risk Factors:
● Age (higher risk with older age groups)
● Sex (women are more at risk than men)
● Family history
● Race and ethnicity (higher prevalence in people with African heritage)
● Having a diet high in sodium
● Tobacco use
● Excessive alcohol consumption
● Being obese or overweight
● Lack of physical activity
● Diabetes

Eye Conditions Associated to High Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure can negatively impact many parts of the body in very different ways,
with no exception to the eyes and vision. Ocular conditions associated to high blood
pressure include:
● Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. Bleed spot(s) that may form underneath the
conjunctiva. This can sometimes be an indication of high blood pressure.
● Hypertensive Retinopathy. A condition defined by vascular damage in the retina
which can cause an accumulation of blood or fluid and ultimately cause changes in
or loss of vision.
● Transient Ischemic Attack. A stroke-like attack that usually includes a sudden
momentary change in or loss of vision. This may last for a few minutes but this
condition requires immediate medical attention.
● Optic Neuropathy . High blood pressure can sometimes block blood flow to the eye
and cause damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss.

In general, high blood pressure can be well controlled with appropriate management.
Treatment usually consists of dietary changes, regular exercise, and/or prescribed
medications. If you are at high risk for developing high blood pressure, routine
comprehensive health exams and screenings with both a primary care provider and
optometrist are recommended. This can go a long way in strategizing preventive care and
detecting early warning signs of more serious problems.

-Dr. Eugene Pak

1. “High Blood Pressure.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, 9 December 2019, www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/
2. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” American Heart Association, 9 December 2019,

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