Updated: 3 days ago
Chinese medicine considers your body as a whole ecosystem where all the individual parts are interconnected. It is therefore not surprising that a change in one part, like your blood vessels and blood pressure, can affect all the other parts, including your eyes.
Your eyes are windows to your soul, as well as your health, capable of revealing the truths about your wellbeing. In today’s post, we are going to take a look at the relationship between your blood pressure and your eye-health.
The dangers of hypertension for your blood vessels
Blood vessels are the network that supply your every single cell of your body with oxygen rich blood, and carries away waste and toxins. In a state of balance, fresh blood is gently pushed through the body with every beat of your heart.
High blood pressure damages the blood vessels, especially the walls of arteries, making them elastic and less efficient. As the heart has to pump harder and arteries overwork, the walls of blood vessels thicken and become more narrow. This limits effective blood flow and can result in the accumulation of plaque or fatty deposits on arterial walls that further restrict blood flow.
Now, your eyes also have a mesh of tiny blood vessels in them, called capillary vessels.
Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) can also harden the arteries in your eyes and compromise the blood supply, therefore affecting your vision.
How Blood Pressure Affects Your Eyes
Hypertension causes an increase in pressure in the blood vessels both at rest and during vessel constricting. This can cause blood to be forced, rather than gently pushed, into smaller blood vessels, causing a variety of issues.
The blood vessels in the retina may be stiff and hardened. They’ll push on one another and cross. Blood vessels may begin to leak, leading to hemorrhaging which appears as bloodshot eyes or petechiae that can cause a whole range of vision issues.
Retinopathy is blood vessel damage that is caused by a lack of blood flow to the retina which leads to blurred vision or the complete loss of sight. Those with hypertension or diabetes are at an even greater risk for developing retinopathy. Managing blood pressure is the only way to treat hypertensive retinopathy.
An eye care professional can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an eye exam.
Narrowing of blood vessels
Spots on the retina known as cotton wool spots and exudates
Swelling of the macula (the central area of the retina) and optic nerve
Bleeding in the back of the eye
Central Serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR)
CSCR is a condition where fluid builds up underneath the retina in the eye. It is caused by high blood pressure making fluids leak out. Since the retina is the light-sensitive a buildup of fluid under it may result in
distorted, dimmed, or blurred central vision
a dark area in your central vision
straight lines may appear bent, crooked or irregular in your affected eye
objects may appear smaller or further away than they are
Also called optic nerve damage, optic neuropathy is caused by blocked blood flow that damages the optic nerve. It can kill nerve cells in your eyes, which may cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
Pain. Most people who develop optic neuritis have eye pain that's worsened by eye movement.
Vision loss in one eye
Visual field loss.
Loss of color vision.
Acupuncture, herbs & supplements for high blood pressure
In a study published in Circulation, acupuncture was able to, after 6 weeks of treatment significantly lower average 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure.
Some studies show acupuncture can help reduce blood pressure without medication.
One study by researchers at the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital in China found acupuncture treated high blood pressure as effectively as a calcium channel blocker, according to an article in Integrative Practitioner.
Though widely accepted in daily practice, mechanism of Chinese herbs reducing blood pressure remain largely unknown. Recent years saw a number of studies utilizing metabolomics technologies to elucidate the biological foundation of the antihypertensive effect of TCM.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment significantly altered the metabolic perturbations associated with hypertension. TCM not only significantly rebalances the dynamics of metabolic flux, but also elicits metabolic network reorganization through restoring the functions of key metabolites, and metabolic pathways.
He et al. found that an Coptis chinensis Franch -constituted formula, Yiqi Huaju formula, lowered blood pressure and serum lipids level through inhibiting mRNA expression of the renal renin, angiotensin II (Ang II), and Ang II receptor, type 1 (AT1R), and inhibited the protein expression of renal AT1R and Ang II receptor type 2 in a high-salt and high-fat diet induced hypertension rat model (He et al., 2015).
Taurine, has been shown to have a distinctive therapeutic effect on cardiovascular system. Increased dietary intake of taurine lowered blood pressure in hypertension patients
Ginseng Radix et Rhizoma, radix, and rhizome of Panax ginseng is believed to have hypotensive actions, for the total ginsenosides it contains are capable of balancing the hypo- and hypertensive states (Yue et al., 2007).
In data reported by Pharmacy Times, studies found that after four weeks of treatment with coenzyme Q10, systolic blood pressure decreased by 11 points and diastolic decreased by 7 points.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), lifestyle changes are the best way to manage hypertension. The NCCIH recommends:
eating a healthy balanced diet full of veggies and fruit
reducing salt consumption
maintaining a moderate weight
limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption
quitting smoking, if applicable
managing stress levels
Don't wait until your vision declines to treat your blood pressure. Talk to your primary care provider and book an acupuncture appointment!