During your regular eye exam we thoroughly and carefully exam the tiny blood vessels in your Retina-especially for seniors and others who have high blood pressure, other vascular disease and diabetes. For patients with hypertension or high blood one of very important things we can tell from your eye health is you potential risk of stroke. In the past assessment of the signs of hypertensive retinopathy-the retinal vascular condition that results from high blood pressure-has been recommended for determining end organ damage such as kidney and heart problems.

According to researchers reporting in the journal Hypertension there is a clear predictive value of evaluating whether hypertensive retinopathy predicts the long-term risk of stroke in those with hypertension.  In this study, participants with hypertension aged 50 to 73 years had gradable retinal photographs, no history of diabetes mellitus, stroke, and coronary heart disease at baseline and data on incident stroke, were included from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Retinal photographs were assessed for hypertensive retinopathy signs and classified as none, mild, and moderate/severe. Any history of stroke, cerebral infarction or hemorrhagic stroke were identified and confirmed. The results showed that after adjusting for age, sex, blood pressure and other risk factors, persons with moderate hypertensive retinopathy were more likely to have stroke. Even in patients with hypertension on medication with good control of blood pressure, hypertensive retinopathy was related to an increased risk of stroke! 

From this study we know that hypertensive retinopathy predicts the long term risk of stroke, independent of blood pressure, even in treated patients with hypertension with good hypertension control. Thus, if you have high blood pressure, it is often important for us to obtain photographs at your eye examination in order to document and assess hypertensive retinopathy signs that may be useful for assessment of your stroke risk.

If you or someone you know has questions about hypertensive retinopathy and high blood pressure, please call The Eye Clinic of Texas, an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas.

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