Hypertensive means one who has high blood pressure. Retinopathy refers to the damage on the retina which results in a retinal disorder. Thus, hypertensive retinopathy damage to the retina caused by your high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, if not properly monitored and treated will cause the walls of the small blood cells in the retina to get thicker. When this happens, the blood will have a more difficult time passing through, and blood supply to your retina is compromised.
It is also possible for the blood to start leaking to the retina which will affect your eyesight. Of course, the effect of hypertension on your retina will be dependent on the severity of your high blood pressure problem. The more serious your hypertension is, the higher the risk of damage to your eyes.
Hypertensive retinopathy is categorized into 4 stages. Stage 1 is the onset of this retinal disorder, and usually does not present any symptoms. The highest is stage 4 which is swelling of the macula in the retina and the optic nerve. At this point, it is highly possible for the patient to also have kidney and heart problems, mainly because of the hypertension. At stage 4, the person with the condition must seek medical attention immediately. If possible, he should proceed to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
The usual symptoms that one can have with this condition are headaches and vision problems, sometimes even abrupt loss of vision. If you have any concern and are experiencing these symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist. This is an eye doctor who can tell if your blood vessels are leaking or narrowing. The eye exam is relatively simple with the ophthalmoscope, and your ophthalmologist can probably reach a diagnosis within a few minutes.
Some studies have shown that African Americans are more prone to hypertensive retinopathy than white Caucasians. The main reason for this is that African Americans have twice as many chances of getting hypertension than Caucasians.
Nevertheless, treatment for this retinal disorder must start with treatment of the high blood pressure. If one can begin to control his hypertension, then the risk of getting vision problems like hypertensive retinopathy decreases.
Some doctors may even consider alternative treatment methods like all natural supplements to lower the high blood pressure to a more acceptable level. As you may know, a person with high blood pressure should not just be concerned for his eyesight, but for his life. This is because hypertension can cause heart attacks and other equally life-threatening medical problems. Have an eye exam, and find out what is causing your vision problems. It could be a retinal disorder, or it could be something more simpler like a migraine or astigmatism. Either way, it is always better to know than to go through life, slowly losing your eyesight.