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Key Risk Factors that Can Impact Healthy Vision

Eye examMay is Healthy Vision Month, which is the perfect time to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining the health of our eyes. Having a routine eye exam at least once every two years is a vital component to good visual health as it can help detect early signs of eye disease.

However underlying medical conditions can also have a significant impact on our eyes. As a result, it’s important to know key risk factors that can impact both our visual and overall health.

Blood Pressure:

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the vessel walls. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is caused when that pressure is higher than normal. The result can lead to serious complications including the narrowing of the blood vessels in the eye and the swelling of the retina (the light sensitive portion of the eye).


Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and plays an important part in digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. However, high levels of cholesterol can lead to serious issues including retinal vein occlusion. This occurs when cholesterol breaks off part of the blood vessel wall and causes a clot in the retina.

Blood Sugar:

Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the sugar that’s found in the blood. Glucose comes from the food we eat and is the body's main source of energy. Diabetes results in abnormal blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes are at a higher risk for eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts can occur when the lens of the eye becomes progressively cloudy, resulting in blurred vision. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases, which damage the optic nerve – the nerve that transmits visual information to the brain. Untreated glaucoma can damage the optic nerve so severely that permanent blindness, vision loss or visual distortion may occur.

Intraocular Pressure:

Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the fluid pressure in the eye. When the pressure is too high, it can have a damaging effect on the optic nerve. This nerve plays a key role in relaying visual information from the retina to the brain. A person with high IOP is at an increased risk for glaucoma and even permanent vision loss.

Anyone with concerns regarding the conditions listed above should consult their primary care doctor for treatment. The Eye Institute (TEI) also offers specialty services to help patients who suffer from these conditions maintain their visual health. To schedule an appointment at TEI, call 215.276.6111.