Family Eye Health & Contact Lens Center

All About Vision – Seeing More Clearly

Hypertension could be lurking in your eyes


Image by Morning Calm News via Flickr

This past holiday, there were 15 people gathered to celebrate, friends and family.  At some point in the evening, one of the hosts, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, had his blood pressure cuff sitting around; it’s a digital wrist cuff. You can’t have one of those things sitting at the table around this curious group without someone picking it up and playing with it. It became a betting game, of course. We’re not just curious, we’re also competitive. It was all fun and games, however, three of the men at the table showed frighteningly high blood pressure. All are relatively young men, seemingly healthy. And, while we were all participating in the spirits that accompany such a bash, the number of others who “played” our game offered a good enough control group of consistently accurate readings.

There could be several reasons that cuff read so high for these guys…user error, cuff too low in relation to the heart, vessels too far beneath the skin, and so on. However, we tested each person at the table three times, at different intervals and stages of rest. All fluctuated in heart rate, but consistently presented similar blood pressure. These three guys, whom I love and respect, could be ticking time bombs. I found myself in a quandary. I’m concerned. The writing seems to be on the wall, but I’m not a doctor. Should I say something?

I did. I couldn’t just sit back and let this slide. It was difficult to address when it’s not my expertise—not even close. But, I did it, privately and after the celebration. By talking to them, I had nothing to lose. If I didn’t speak up, I could literally lose them. I shared my concern and asked them to take the opportunity to get a way-past-overdue physical, including a COMPLETE eye exam by an optometrist.

They had no idea that a look into the eye may reveal the silent damage wrought by high blood pressure and diabetes and reflect the risk of a future stroke or heart attack. All I can do is hope they share my concern and check it out. If nothing else, they’ll have an answer. If it turns out to be nothing, they’ll have a reason to hassle me (worrywart). There has to be at least one of us to razz while sitting at the card table. In this case, I’ll gladly wear that hat. If it turns out we caught something by playing our little impromptu game, then I’ll just be happy to be sitting at the table with them for a while longer.

No matter who you are, regular eye exams are important for seeing more clearly and seeing signs of diseases like hypertension, glaucoma, and diabetes.  So get your new year off to a great start by getting complete eye exam with your Optometrist.

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