High Blood Pressure May Increase Your Risk Of Glaucoma

First Posted: Apr 27, 2015 05:05 PM EDT

Could high blood pressure increase the risk of glaucoma? New findings examine how the second leading cause of blindness in the world could also be hurting health in another way.

"Studies have shown that high blood pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma. But the reasons for this were never clear," researcher Bang Bui, said in a statement.

In the IOVS study, "Chronic Hypertension Increases Susceptibility to Acute IOP Challenge in Rats," Bang and his co-authors from the University of Melbourne and School of Medicine at Deakin University, Australia, examined a potential reason for those observations. 

As previous studies have shown that high blood pressure could counteract with high eye pressure, potentially resulting in glaucoma.

"When we raised blood pressure... for four weeks, we didn't get the same protection against eye pressure elevation as in the [one hour] case," said Bui. "What this means is that having high blood pressure for a longer time has compromised the eye's capacity to cope with high eye pressure. It seems that hypertension might damage the blood vessels in the eye so that they can't compensate for changes in blood flow when eye pressure increases."

They further tested the theory that "any benefit from high blood pressure counteracting high eye pressure is lost as damage to blood vessels - a consequence of hypertension - becomes more prevalent." For this, they compared the effect of acute (one hour) and chronic (four week) hypertension in lab rats with elevated eye pressure.

For future care, health officials suggest that a patient's blood pressure is heavily monitored when trying to manage the potential issue. 

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