It is estimated that more than 50 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. Many factors are thought to contribute to high blood pressure, but the exact cause remains unknown. Untreated high blood pressure speeds up artery clogging and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The organs most commonly affected by high blood pressure are the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes.
The eye is an important diagnostic tool in assessing the effects of high blood pressure elsewhere in the body. Hardening of the arteries, hemorrhages and fluid leakage seen in the eye are known as hypertensive retinopathy. These changes to the eye reflect changes occurring in the other organs of the body.
There is no known cure for hypertension, but the pressure can be controlled and the complications reduced. In addition to prescribed medications, reducing salt intake, losing weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake and eating potassium rich foods all help to control high blood pressure. These dietary and exercise measures also help to prevent typical age-related increase in blood pressure.