VSP:  Hypertension and the Connection with the Eyes

Doctors use the term “hypertension” to describe both the general condition called high blood pressure as well as the specific condition called high intraocular pressure (IOP). Ocular hypertension is a condition where the pressure in your eyes is too high.

Some possible causes of ocular hypertension include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • A diet with excess salt, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, red meat, alcohol and sugar
  • Eye trauma
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Other factors, such as age, race, and genetics, can also contribute to ocular hypertension.

Ocular hypertension is a result of disruptions in the aqueous humour, the fluid substance that fills the anterior chamber of the eye and helps to keep the cornea functioning properly.  If your eye produces too much aqueous or has trouble draining enough of it, your IOP will be high.  High pressure within the eye can eventually damage the optic nerve and lead to glaucoma or permanent vision loss.

If you find that your peripheral vision is becoming blurry, schedule a visit to your eye doctor immediately because this could be a sign of glaucoma.  Although eye drops or prescription medications cannot reverse the effects of glaucoma, they can prevent the damage from getting worse.  They can also help prevent hypertension from turning into glaucoma.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent hypertension, but maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and visiting your eye doctor at least once a year are all smart ways to guard against hypertension and other eye conditions.

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