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Interested in sharing this information with your employees? Body Diagram Annual Cost of presenteeism per employee with with hypertension is approxiamtely $247 Camera and Film

Hypertension and Your Eyes

The eyes and body are linked in so many ways.

When employees don't see well, they don't feel well. They feel eyestrain and fatigue that can lead to headaches and even time away from work.

At the same time, when employees don't feel well, they might not see well, since many systemic diseases and medications taken for them can impact the health of our eyes and how well we see.

Consider the connection between high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and the eyes. This is a condition that can impact many parts of the body:

  • Arteries
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Kidneys

How? Keep in mind that artery walls are made of muscle. Just as a muscle grows larger from the continual pressure of exercise, high blood pressure makes the inner lining of arteries grow thick, as well as stiff. Over time, fats entering the bloodstream become stuck, blocking blood flow to the heart, kidneys, brain, arms and legs. This can lead to blood clots, and ultimately a heart attack or stroke.

Hypertension can also damage vessels that supply blood to the retina and create leakage in the eye. Without proper treatment, this can potentially lead to:

  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Blindness

It may help to think of the eye as a camera, with the retina serving as the film, and the optic nerve sending messages to the brain. When leakage happens, it's like to trying to take a picture with soggy film, leading to a blurred image.

Early detection of hypertension is possible through an eye exam, since the doctor can see signs of this leakage at the back of the eye. With early detection, treatment can start earlier, helping to reduce vision loss and overall health costs.

Glaucoma perspective

Glaucoma 101

A separate issue that can also affect eye health, hypertension of the eye itself, can damage the optic nerve, leading to glaucoma. When glaucoma is untreated, people start to have trouble seeing objects off to the sides of their field of vision. This can worsen over time until they potentially lose their sight completely.

A thorough eye exam through a vision benefit can help detect hypertension of the eye or glaucoma early, to make the most of your employees' vision and slow the progression of the disease. This is especially important considering that more than 4 million Americans have glaucoma but only half know they have it (Prevent Blindness America).

What to Look For

Which of your employees might be at risk for glaucoma? Several health and lifestyle factors could increase the chance of developing glaucoma, and they should be discussed with an eyecare professional.
They include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Migraine headaches
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or alcohol use
  • History of stress or anxiety
  • Age 40+

Women also have a greater chance of developing hypertension of the eye, especially after menopause, while men may have a higher risk for eye damage caused by glaucoma.

Asthma, Diabetes and hypertension account for 164 million lost workdays annually Only 13% off those with Diabetes and 5% of those without it know diabetes can lead to hypertension

The Diabetes Connection and Eyewear

Unfortunately, many people with diabetes don't realize that hypertension can actually develop as a side effect of the disease.

Plus, diabetes can cause light sensitivity, as can certain medications used to treat diabetes and hypertension/glaucoma.

Because of this, many eye doctors recommend that patients with diabetes or hypertension wear Transitions® lenses. These lenses are as clear as regular lenses indoors and at night, but become sunglass dark outdoors, minimizing glare to alleviate eyestrain, fatigue and discomfort caused by light sensitivity. They also protect your eyes from 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, which can lead to the development of eye diseases in both healthy and diabetic eyes.

Make sure your employees are aware of the eye-related and overall health-related risks of hypertension and diabetes, as well as the steps they can take to protect their health, such as taking advantage of regular eye exams and sight-enhancing eyewear through your vision benefit.

For more information, visit the HR Professionals tab at HealthySightWorkingForYou.com.

Woman wearing transitions lenses

Quick Tips for Overall Health

Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, to manage cholesterol and blood pressure.

Visit your primary care doctor to find out whether you have high blood pressure, and discuss any other risk factors for developing glaucoma.

Make sure you receive regular, thorough eye exams to check for any conditions that could damage your sight, such as hypertension of the eye or diabetes.

Talk to your eyecare professional about UV-blocking and glare-minimizing eyewear, such as Transitions lenses, to protect healthy sight.

If you're interested in sharing this material with your employees, just copy and paste the following text and link into an e-mail.

The eyes and body are linked in so many ways. It makes sense that when we don't see well, we don't feel well – which means we can't perform our best. Plus the eyes often provide the first glimpse of conditions that can threaten our eye and overall health. One condition that can take quite a toll on both the eye and body is high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. Click on the link below to read a newsletter about hypertension, and the importance of using the comprehensive vision care and vision wear provided through your vision benefit, to protect your eye health today and in the future. http://www.healthysightworkingforyou.com/Newsletter/February2009/newsletter_employee.html