Thomas B. Wood, OD

Mary J. Mantini, OD

Clear Vision Begins with Healthy Eyes.

Eye Damage due to High Blood Pressure

(Hypertensive Retinopathy)

What is hypertensive retinopathy?

High blood pressure can cause damage to the retina of the eye. The retina is the layer of cells in the back of the eye that senses the light that enters the eye. The retina has an extensive network of small blood vessels. If blood pressure remains high, then the pressures starts to damage the retinal blood vessels. The blood vessels can leak, swell, and thicken . There may also be some edema (fluid retention) in the eye.


Symptoms are usually not obvious until there is severe damage. Generally, until there is severe damage, it is not detectable to the person that has eye damage due to high blood pressure. Only when there is major damage will there be an obvious reduction in vision and sometimes headaches. Irreversible damage to the optic nerve or macula can occur. Control of hypertension is the only treatment for hypertensive retinopathy.