Renowned Eye Surgeon Dr. Stewart Shofner Expresses the Importance of National High Blood Pressure Education Month to Help Prevent Irreversible Eye Damage

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Dr. Stewart Shofner with Shofner Vision Center expresses the importance of high blood pressure awareness month as it has such an effect on every part of the body including the eyes.

Retina Human Eye

Normal blood vessels in human retina. Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014

Ophthalmologists can determine if a patient has high blood pressure.

Almost every month we raise awareness on a national level to a specific cause or disease and May is not excluded. Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center in Nashville helps educate his patients and others about the risks of high blood pressure, which can affect every part of the body including the eyes.

According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 78 million Americans (one in three adults) have high blood pressure (hypertension). “During a dilated retinal exam, ophthalmologists can determine if a patient has high blood pressure,” says Dr. Stewart Shofner.

National High Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on one’s health. Educating patients about high blood pressure and the need for control is essential. “High blood pressure can cause serious damage to the retina,” says Dr. Shofner.

Eye Damage
Like other vessels, the blood vessels that supply blood to your eyes can be damaged by high blood pressure causing any of the following issues:

  •     Retinopathy. High blood pressure can damage the vessels supplying blood to your retina, causing retinopathy. Retinopathy may lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and vision loss. Having both diabetes and high blood pressure increases a patient’s risk for retinopathy.
  •     Choroidopathy. Fluid builds up under the retina due to a leaky blood vessel in a layer of blood vessels, which may cause distorted vision.
  •     Optic Neuropathy. Blood flow that is blocked can damage the optic nerve and kill eye nerve, which may cause bleeding within the eye or vision loss.

Rarely, blood pressure readings suddenly become very high, but when they do, it can cause severe changes in the eye. Other problems with the retina are also more likely, such as retinal artery occlusion and retinal vein occlusion. Since the central retinal artery and vein are the sole source of blood supply and drainage for the retina, such occlusion can lead to severe damage to the retina and blindness. In some cases, it can also cause glaucoma.

In most cases, the retina will heal if the blood pressure is controlled. However, some people with a “Grade 4” retinopathy will have irreversible damage to the optic nerve or macula. Dr. Shofner recommends that it is important to seek medical treatment for those having high blood pressure and sudden vision changes or headaches.

Controlling High Blood Pressure
Prescription medications are available for controlling high blood pressure. Another way to reduce HBP is by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking or tobacco products, and limit alcohol consumption is critical for preventing HBP and managing it.

About Dr. Stewart Shofner
Harvard Graduate, Dr. Stewart Shofner has been practicing in Nashville since 1990 and has performed more than 10,000 cataract and ocular surgeries and over 30,000 LASIK/PRK surgeries on Middle Tennessee eyes. Dr. Shofner is Board Certified and one of the country's premier eye surgeons offers treatment to reduce eye damage and improve vision.

About Shofner Vision Center
Shofner Vision Center offers by far the most caring, responsible group of professionals who pay close attention to details to ensure every patient is given the best experience. Patients can schedule a comprehensive eye exam online to determine if an eye disease such as hypertensive retinopathy is present or by calling (615) 340-4733.

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