Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common ailment but can lead to serious consequences and even sudden death if not controlled. Chronic hypertension affects most of the vital organs and is the commonest cause of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
Dr M Shahnawaz Purkait, the Medical Superintendent of Techno India Dama Healthcare and Medical Centre states a few guidelines for managing Borderline and mild hypertension
- Maintaining proper weight as per BMI.
- Having a healthy diet that is low in salt, potassium, and animal proteins.
- Moderate physical activity /exercise like walking, cycling, swimming or freehand, and yoga 20 to minutes 3 to 5 times a week.
- Smoking cessation.
- Reducing caffeine, tea, and alcohol.
- Adequate sleep ( 6 to 8 hrs ) at night.
- Avoid a stressful lifestyle and spend some time in meditation.
- Regular BP check-ups after reaching 40 yrs age.
- Following all prescribed medications and taking special care if one is Diabetic or Obese or having a family history of hypertension.
- Special care during pregnancy when the BP can shoot up
The issue of Hypertension or high blood pressure also bears adverse effects on the eyes by causing damage to the blood vessels. The effects can range from something harmless like a subconjunctival hemorrhage to something vision-threatening like a retinal vein occlusion.
Dr Soham Basak, Consultant, Cornea Department of Disha Eye Hospitals throws light on the impact of Hypertension on the Human Eyes and the imperative steps to deal with this problem.
- Hypertensive retinopathy – uncontrolled high blood pressure over a long time can cause changes in the blood vessels supplying the retina or the delicate screen at the back of our eyes. The vessel damage can lead to fluid leakage and causes edema of the retinal tissues and sometimes small hemorrhages. This can lead to blurred vision.
- Retinal vein and artery occlusion – commonly referred to as stroke of the retina. Hypertension is one of the leading risk factors leading to these conditions. In retinal vein occlusion there is rupture of the retinal blood vessels leading to blood collection in the retina, whereas in retinal artery occlusion, the retina is damaged due to diminished blood circulation. Both need urgent treatment – retinal injections, lasers, and even surgery in rare situations.
- Ischemic optic neuropathy – the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is affected in this condition. High blood pressure can lead to reduced blood flow to this nerve leading to irreversible vision loss.
- Hypertension is also responsible for the onset and worsening of diabetic eye disease.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage – sudden changes in blood pressure can cause the delicate vessels of the white of the eye to rupture and leak blood into the surrounding area. This can cause bright redness of the eyes which is often alarming, but this is a relatively harmless and self-resolving condition. The redness resolves within 2 to 4 weeks with little to no treatment.
- Lastly, hypertension is also a risk factor in progression of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (weakening of the retinal cells due to old age). These are again due to the effect high blood pressure has on altering blood flow to the delicate and microscopic blood vessels of the eye.
So control of blood pressure not only prevents certain eye diseases, it also has an indirect effect on the progression of other ocular pathologies. Fluctuation of blood pressure is also harmful. So the control should be maintained steadily. People over the age of 40 are encouraged to get their blood pressure checked at regular intervals.