High blood pressure (also called hypertension) takes place when your blood exerts too much force against the area around your blood vessels. Anything above 140 over 90 mm Hg is considered high blood pressure, by most standards.
At the beginning of your eye exam, your optometrist may ask questions about your health, lifestyle, and family medical history. High blood pressure may come into the conversation. Don’t be afraid to share this information, as it can help your eye doctor see if you’re at risk for hypertension or other health issues.
While your eye doctor might ask you about this condition, you may wonder, ‘How can high blood pressure affect my eyes, and can an eye test detect high blood pressure?’ Let’s discuss.
How does high blood pressure impact your eyes?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), high blood pressure can increase your chances of developing choroidopathy, optic neuropathy, and other eye issues. High blood pressure can also lead to ocular hypertension (or excess eye pressure).
Usually, heightened pressure in the eyes is a sign of glaucoma, but that’s not the case for this condition, though it can lead to glaucoma over time. Ocular hypertension affects adults and children, and it may lack apparent symptoms, which makes it that much more important to schedule regular eye exams.
Some high blood pressure eye symptoms include:
- Enlarged optic discs
- Impaired blood vessels
- Vision issues
Many of the first symptoms of hypertension start in the eyes, and it’s common for people to mistake these symptoms for other things, such as dry eye syndrome or needing a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Speaking with your doctor or an optical professional is the best way to find out if your symptoms are for hypertension or other medical issues.
Can an eye test detect high blood pressure?
Yes, an eye test can detect high blood pressure. The optometrist may start by dilating your eyes with eye drops to better inspect the area behind each eye. They’ll examine your retina to get a proper angle of your small blood vessels. Then, they’ll check to make sure these blood vessels aren’t too large or slim, as that can indicate high blood pressure.
The eye doctor may use light to run the eye test, but don’t worry. It shouldn’t bother you too much. Once they remove the light, your eyes may take a few minutes to adjust, but they should be back to normal soon. The optometrist may also use a tonometer to measure your overall eye pressure and check for specific eye diseases and other problems, such as high blood pressure.
Summary: Eye Examination Tests for Hypertension
Regular comprehensive eye exams are pertinent for all ages, especially if your family has a history of high blood pressure. Vision disturbance and high blood pressure are also connected when left untreated.
Hypertension can make you more likely to get choroidopathy and optic neuropathy, among other eye issues. You might also experience ocular hypertension, which can cause glaucoma over time.
Fortunately, an eye test can detect high blood pressure, giving you peace of mind during the eye exam. Our optometrists will be there for you every step of the way, ready to answer any of your questions about high blood pressure eye symptoms (and how to treat them). They may also send you to a primary care physician for further evaluation if you need it.
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