Chronically high blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common diseases in the world. Roughly 50 million Americans, and nearly 70% of all senior citizens, suffer from abnormally high blood pressure. If untreated, high blood pressure can lead to major causes of death such as heart attack and stroke. Even though the problem is so pervasive, a large portion of patients are entirely unaware of their condition. The only way to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment is to visit a medical professional, and some people shy away from doctor’s visits.
However, if someone needs glasses or contact lenses, that issue is harder to ignore than more generalized bodily issues. So, surprisingly, many cases of hypertension are first discovered by optometrists during routine eye exams. Here’s why.
Many Patients Skip Wellness Visits
As alluded to, many Americans view an annual check-up as a luxury, not a necessity. Therefore, many skip their annual physical exam for years at a time. But when a vision prescription needs adjusting, the matter cannot be simply disregarded. So for those who require corrective lenses, many patients spend more time at the eye doctor than at their primary care physician.
In addition to the standardized tests that optometrists perform, this gives these professionals a unique opportunity and responsibility to look out for the overall health of their ocular patients.
How Optometrists “See” Hypertension
The eye is an incredibly unique organ. It is the only place on the body where one can inspect blood vessels without having to break the skin. For this reason, examining eyes provides a different and closer view of many blood and circulation-related issues.
For starters, blood vessels begin to make curved paths when they are under stress. They can also begin to lose their characteristic red color as the blood vessel walls thicken, turning them more silver to the observer. Pressure points where vessels are under acute stress can result in tell-tale “nicking,” in which case the vessel splits or reroutes. Even ocular issues such as macroaneurysms and glaucoma, which are routinely screened by optometrists. can actually be a sign of hypertension.
A more comprehensive list of ocular manifestations of hypertension can be found here.
In short, when conducting an eye exam, optometrists have the ability to aid in more than just vision enhancement. A qualified eye doctor can help identify issues such as hypertension if they are aware of the signs.
Complete Eye Care of Medina – Your Comprehensive Vision Specialists
At Complete Eye Care of Medina, we believe everyone deserves great vision and healthy eyes. That’s why we take a one-on-one approach to every patient, helping to develop a customized treatment plan that is right for you and your family. Our qualified optometrists are properly briefed on health issues that can affect your eyes, as well as what your eyes might tell us about your health. When you visit Complete Eye Care of Medina, you can rest assured that your health and vision are in capable hands. Schedule a visit with a professional eye doctor today.