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Can Blood Pressure Medication Cause Eye Problems?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. This eye condition is characterized by the deterioration of the center of the retina called the macula. AMD is diagnosed using:

  • a visual acuity test which assesses how well a patient can see from various distances
  • pupil dilation which allows the ophthalmologist to view the patient’s retina
  • an Amsler Grid is also used with wavy lines possibly denoting retinal swelling

Over time, AMD can cause permanent vision loss or blindness. According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there may be a link between age-related macular degeneration and hypertension medication.

The results of the study showed that vasodilators, medications that act directly on muscles in blood vessel walls to make blood vessels widen, may increase the risk of AMD by as much as 75 percent. Among the participants in the study who took blood pressure medication, 19.1 percent developed AMD, compared to 8.2 percent in the group that did not take blood pressure medication.

Dr. Michael Tracy of Carlsbad Eye Care, one of the researchers, stated, “With this research, ophthalmologists have a new understanding of AMD. These findings also illustrate the importance of annual eye exams, which are useful for identifying AMD, glaucoma, and other eye diseases before they become serious. With proper precaution and care, patients can help their eyes remain healthy for years.”

Doctors and researchers must do more research to establish a stronger connection between blood pressure medications and age-related macular degeneration, but this new study could potentially help doctors find new treatment options. If you have AMD and you take blood pressure medication, talk to your doctor and ophthalmologist for more information. Even if your eyes are healthy, it is important to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams to prevent eye disease (Source: Digital Journal).