Blood pressure is an extremely important factor to consider when monitoring your health. Not only does it pose a risk to organs like the heart and liver, but it can also affect your eyes. Many individuals are at increased risk for high blood pressure. Lifestyle choices can put individuals at high risk. For example, a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, excessive stress, moderate to high alcohol intake, and lack of exercise put individuals at higher risk for high blood pressure. In addition, having a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes can also put an individual at increased risk.

One of the less talked about risks for high blood pressure is gender. High blood pressure is a major threat to anyone's health, but women are at increased risk. Blood pressure elevation begins earlier in life for women and increases at a quicker rate as women age.  Also, research has shown that standard noninvasive blood pressure diagnostics may not be as accurate for women as men. Blood pressure readings are modified for certain variables like arm circumference, but are not modified for sex. Obviously the male and female bodies differ in many ways, therefore if there are less accurate blood pressure readings for women, there is an increased risk for undetected elevated blood pressure. Beyond diagnostic methods possibly putting women at increased risk, women’s risk of high blood pressure increases after menopause. The female body undergoes various changes during menopause including changes in body weight and hormone levels. These changes can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Also, there is a specific form of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy called preeclampsia.

Symptoms of high blood pressure are hard to recognize because the symptoms are extremely generic. High blood pressure symptoms are headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort. Some women show no detectable symptoms at all.

The effects of high blood pressure on eyesight can be detrimental. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your eye. If the blood vessels in the back of your eye are damaged, you can develop hypertensive retinopathy, which can cause eye swelling, impaired vision, and headaches. In addition, high blood pressure can also cause fluid to build up under the retina, which can cause scarring and distorted vision. Also, High blood pressure can restrict blood flow and damage the optic nerve, which can cause bleeding, vision impairment or even vision loss.

To protect yourself from the consequences of high blood pressure, ensure that you constantly check your blood pressure. The earlier that elevated blood pressure is detected, the better. If high blood pressure is detected early, it is more manageable, and damage can be prevented with treatment. Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/ 80 mmHg. Elevated blood pressure is between 120-129/ <80mmHHg. Hypertension, stage 1 is between 130-139/ 80 -< 90 mmHg. Lastly, Hypertension, stage 2 is 140/ 90 mmHg or higher. High blood pressure is preventable and manageable. Beyond frequently checking your blood pressure, you should maintain a healthy body weight, eat a well-balanced diet, limit processed foods, limit your salt intake, exercise, make healthy lifestyle choices and see your doctor regularly. Lastly, don’t forget about your eyes.

High blood pressure can astronomically impact your eye health. If you are experiencing elevated blood pressure or are managing high blood pressure. When you are diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes, see us at Island Retina regularly to monitor your sight.