What is Hypertensive Retinopathy?

Hypertensive Retinopathy is damage to the retina (an area at the back of the eye where the image focuses) and the retinal circulation due to increase in the blood pressure (i.e. Hypertension). The patients with hypertensive retinopathy usually come with no visual symptoms. Sometimes they may report a headache or decreased vision.


Can high blood pressure affect my eyes?

YES. High blood pressure i.e. Hypertension can affect your eyes.

Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina (an area at the back of the eye where the image focuses).


Who is at a higher risk of developing Hypertensive Retinopathy?

The person having uncontrolled blood pressure and diabetes have a higher chance of developing Hypertensive Retinopathy.


What are the Symptoms of Hypertensive Retinopathy?

  • Reduced Vision
  • Eye swelling
  • Double vision with Headache
  • Optic disk oedema
  • Retinal haemorrhages


Are there any stages of Hypertensive Retinopathy?

Keith and Wegner have classified hypertensive retinopathy into 4 stages:

Grade I: In Grade I, there is a mild narrowing of the retinal artery.

Grade II: They are similar to Grade I, but they are more severe or tighter constrictions of the retinal artery. This is called Arteriovenous (AV).

Grade III: There are signs of Grade II with retinal oedema, micro aneurysms, cotton wool spots and retinal haemorrhage.

Grade IV: Has severe signs of Grade III along with optic disc swelling called papilledema and macular oedema.


What are the complications of Hypertensive Retinopathy?

  • Ischemic Optic Neuropathy: – It is a medical condition involving loss of vision due to the damage to the optic nerve from insufficient blood supply.
  • Retinal artery occlusion: – It is caused by the embolism (blockage) in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina.
  • Retinal vein occlusion:- It is caused by the blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina.
  • Malignant hypertension:- Malignant Hypertension is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage.
  • Nerve fibre layer ischemia:- Damage to the nerve fibres may lead to cotton-wool spots, which are fluffy white lesions on the retina.


What are the treatments for Hypertensive Retinopathy?

Effective treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy is to control the blood pressure by medication and lifestyle changes by improving diet, exercise etc.


Are there any tips to prevent Hypertensive Retinopathy?

Yes, few tips can be followed to prevent Hypertensive retinopathy.

  • Take your blood pressure medicine regularly.
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Have a balanced diet.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Monitor your blood pressure regularly and ensure that you take note of the readings.


Can Hypertensive Retinopathy be prevented?

To prevent Hypertensive Retinopathy, keep your blood pressure under control by changing your diet, exercising more, and taking your blood pressure medications on time.