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Hypertensive Retinopathy - Everything About It!

Written and reviewed by
Gnh Excel Medical Centre 87% (293ratings)
Dermatologist, Delhi
Hypertensive Retinopathy - Everything About It!

Hypertension is a killer disease whose symptoms develop late when the damage is in advanced stages. Hypertensive Retinopathy is one such disease.

It damages the retina of eyes. Since retina is responsible for vision formation, Hypertensive Retinopathy can result in loss of vision. It is of grave concern that in most cases, Hypertensive Retinopathy is diagnosed later.

This is due to the fact that there are often no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. In some cases, where symptoms do manifest, patients may experience pain in the eyes, reduced vision, or headache.

What Happens in Hypertensive Retinopathy

People suffering from long term hypertension are susceptible to Hypertensive Retinopathy. Long-term hypertension affects the small and narrow blood vessels that join arteries to capillary blood vessels taking blood to different parts of the eye. These blood vessels become narrow with time if hypertension in the eyes continues unabated. This narrowing is more common in young adults compared to older people. Such unabated systemic hypertension also leads to leakage of fluid. This is why in some cases of Hypertensive Retinopathy, patients may experience exudation. Ultimately, Hypertensive Retinopathy may lead to damage to retinal blood vessels.

Risk Factors

Long standing hypertension is the number one risk factor for Hypertensive Retinopathy. People who are suffering from longer hypertension become most susceptible for this ailment.

However, studies have shown that hypertension for more than 5 years can even make people susceptible to this ailment.


Diagnosis is done by Funduscopic Examination. The doctor would look at the eyes of the patient through an Ophthalmoscope which has different lenses. The Ophthalmoscope illuminates the retina and the doctor looks at the retina with different lenses. He can get a view of the retina, including blood vessels and optic nerve disks.

Findings of Diagnosis

For a person suffering from Hypertensive Retinopathy, this examination is likely to show:

  • Constriction of the arterioles.

  • Changes in the walls of retinal blood vessels.

  • Flame-shaped hemorrhages in the retina.

  • Yellow and hard exudates.

  • Spots in the shape of cotton wool.

  • Swelling of the optic disc.


  • The primary treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy is controlling blood pressure of the eyes. Some lifestyle changes like reducing the intake of salt, avoiding tobacco, etc., may bring down or control systemic hypertension in the eyes. In many cases, doctors may just recommend lifestyle modifications. Nevertheless, it completely depends on the extent of the damage and whether or not there is any fluid accumulation.

  • If the doctor feels that lifestyle modification is not enough, he may go for medicines that help the patients to control blood pressure effectively.

  • If the problem is in advanced stages and there is fluid accumulation behind the retina, the doctor may go for Intravitreal injection or Laser Therapy to control the edema.


Eyes are one of the most significant part of the body, this is why it is important for people to take care of it. In case of disease like Hypertensive Retinopathy, one must consult a doctor before opting any treatment or medicines.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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