In the daily care of our patients, the optometrists here at Envision Optical see many Gold Coast patients with signs in their eyes of general diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and thyroid problems. We recommend taking a Digital Retinal Photograph of the back of our patients eyes as the best way to monitor eye health and detect any changes in the retina that may indicate the earliest signs of eye disease. According to new research published in American Heart Association journal “Hypertension”, taking a Retinal Photograph in patients with high blood pressure may help detect stroke risk.
High blood pressure is the world’s single most important risk factor for stroke, yet, it is nearly impossible to predict which hypertension people are going to develop a stroke. This research study indicates photographing the retina (retinal imaging) may help detect people who are more likely to have a stroke.
The retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain. Retinal imaging is a easy, non-invasive, inexpensive way to examine the blood vessels of the retina.
Researchers tracked stroke occurrence for 13 years in nearly 3000 people with high blood pressure who had not previously experienced a stroke. At baseline, each person had photographs taken of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eyeball. Damage to the retinal blood vessels attributed to hypertension — called “hypertensive retinopathy” — evident on the photographs was scored as none, mild or moderate/severe. During the follow-up, 146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain.
The research study found the risk of stroke was 35 % higher in people with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 % higher in people with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy. Even in patients on medication and achieving decent blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 % higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 % higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy. Researchers adjusted for several stroke risk factors such as age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings.
This is fascinating research and underscores the wider value of having a regular comprehensive eye exam to maximise both your vision and your overall health. If its been a while, book an appointment today.