Although glaucoma is a complicated disease, new evidence suggests a range of blood pressure that is neither too high nor too low is best to help prevent it.
A 2018 study suggests a "Goldilocks scenario" may exist for each of us when it comes to blood pressure and glaucoma. If you recall from the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks is rather finicky, preferring her chair, porridge and bed to be "just right."
For years, scientists have known about the connection between blood pressure and glaucoma. Elevated blood pressure does not cause glaucoma, but it is a known risk factor, especially if it goes untreated. Low blood pressure can also be concerning when it comes to glaucoma. The goal is to achieve a Goldilocks scenario in which blood pressure is "just right."
According to a 2018 study, the prevalence of glaucoma was lowest in patients who had a systolic blood pressure reading of 111 mmHg and 120 mmHg and a diastolic reading of 81 mmHg and 90 mmHg.
How Can Low Blood Pressure Increase Glaucoma Risk?
It would seem that in regard to blood pressure, only high blood pressure would increase the risk of glaucoma. This makes sense because glaucoma is characterized by elevated pressure inside the eye. Hypertensive blood vessels should increase eye pressure, correct? In truth, it is not that simple.
Low blood pressure can also increase the risk of glaucoma. It can cause a condition known as decreased ocular perfusion pressure. Ocular perfusion pressure is the difference between blood pressure and eye pressure. If blood pressure is low but the intraocular pressure is high, blood cannot get into the eye to supply it with nutrients and oxygen.
In a normally functioning body, circulation to the eyes is maintained, even when blood pressure, body position or the environment fluctuates. However, some people have systems that cannot adapt as well to changes, and the eyes may not receive proper nourishment (Glaucoma Research Foundation).
What is Your Ideal Blood Pressure Range?
The researchers in the 2018 study discovered the relationship between glaucoma and blood pressure followed a U-shaped curve. This means glaucoma incidence was highest in patients who had elevated blood pressure or low blood pressure.
Controlling blood pressure is essential for all of us, regardless of whether we are on blood pressure medication. High blood pressure can lead to arteriosclerosis, which can damage the optic nerve. However, low blood pressure can increase your risk of open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma. You and your primary care physician and ophthalmologist can work together to find the blood pressure range that is "just right" for you.
If you are on blood pressure medication, your doctor can monitor your readings to ensure the medication is not creating too much of a gap between your blood pressure and eye pressure. It may be that you could take less medication and still stay within a safe blood pressure range.
Make an Appointment for a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Call today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor to discuss how your blood pressure relates to your eye health. If you are not under the care of a board-certified physician,you can access a list of doctors in your area and find an ophthalmologist in your area.