Hypertensive Retinopathy

Courtney Hoffman

Normal Vision

Normal vision is held within the eye that has not been impacted by damage or other health issues that impair vision. In a healthy eye, light reflects off of objects and enters our eyes so we can see the object. The lights enter through our pupil and then is adjusted and focused by our cornea and our lens so we can recognize what we are looking at as it transfers the focused image to our retina at the back of our eyes (Goldstein, 2014). This all happens rather quickly, as we do not notice a delay in our vision.

With hypertensive retinopathy, patients have double vision, blurry vision, headaches, and even some suffer full vision loss (NIH, 2014). These sudden symptoms are considered a medical emergency and happen later in the disease (NIH, 2014). Normal vision going to damaged vision from hypertensive retinopathy shows problems in our ability to focus and on objects, so damage to the retina from the high blood pressure (NIH, 2014).

Perception of Vision

Perception of vision is a huge part of our life. It allows us to see around us and understand what we are doing better. When light enters our visual receptors is also triggers an electrical signal that is absorbed by our light sensitive visual pigment molecules that are within our receptors – turning light energy into electrical energy (Goldstein, 2014). Stimulation from our outside environment enters our eyes and travels through our nerve fibers to our synapse and into our dendrites and cell bodies (Goldstein, 2014). From there it travels down an axon or nerve fiber and we process it within our brain by transforming the image into an electrical signal that our brains can process (Goldstein, 2014).

Gestalt Approach

We use our nerves and sense to perceive objects and scenes around us each day. Using perceptual organization allows us to do this quickly and lets us group objects to create what becomes our perception of those objects (Goldstein, 2014). Grouping is a process that we do to put things together as individual objects and allows us to build a scene of everything around us, not just one or two objects (Goldstein, 2014). When we look at the backyard, we see all the grass and trees, not just one blade of grass or one tree. Gestalt Approach looks at why and how we group objects in the way we do. Using structuralism we can further understand this approach, thanks to Wilhelm Wundt and his studies in 1879 (Goldstein, 2014). The Gestalt Approach wants to know the reasons why we can maintain meaningful perceptions in our world and how.

How Hypertensive Retinopathy Impacts Your Vision

When a person has high blood pressure they are doing long term damage to their eyes and other body systems. With Hypertensive Retinopathy we see damage to the retina that changes the lights and images that are entering our eyes and impacts the nerve singles that are used to send these lights and images to our brain for processing (NIH, 2014). The symptoms of Hypertensive Retinopathy happen later in the disease and should never be ignored as once the symptoms arise you are already to a dangers level of damage to your retina (NIH, 2014). You can have blood vessels leaning and swelling into different parts of the eye and retina as well as swelling in the optic nerve – all causing a decrease in vision (NIH, 2014).

Current Treatment Options

The only way you can treat Hypertensive Retinopathy is to get your blood pressure under control with medications and lifestyle changes (NIH, 2014). There are other health risks associated with Hypertensive Retinopathy such as heart and kidney problems but once the blood pressure is under control, most people find their vision corrects itself with few people suffering lasting damage (NIH, 2014).


Goldstein, E. B. (2014). Sensation and Perception (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

MRCP Study. (2015). Hypertensive Retinopathy. Retrieved from www.mrcpstudy.com: http://www.mrcpstudy.com/hypertensive-retinopathy/

My Eye World. (2016). Eye Structure and Function. Retrieved from www.myeyeworld.com: http://www.myeyeworld.com/files/eye_structure.htm

NIH. (2014). High blood pressure and eye disease. Retrieved from www.nlm.nih.gov: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000999.htm

Venkat. (2011). How can Diabetes Hurt Eyes and Retinas. Retrieved from http://mottledwithteethmarks.blogspot.com/: http://mottledwithteethmarks.blogspot.com/2011/10/how-can-diabetes-hurt-eyes-and-retinas.html