High blood pressure and glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in the eye increases. High pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve. This can cause loss of peripheral vision which gradually progresses to loss of central vision. Glaucoma seems to run in families. So if your relatives have this condition, you are also likely to develop it. People who have had eye injuries and those who use steroids are also more likely to develop glaucoma. Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are sometimes associated with glaucoma. However, studies have shown contradictory results. Since diabetes, glaucoma and high blood pressure commonly occurs in older people, it is difficult to identify whether these conditions are interrelated. Blood pressure determines the blood flow to the optic nerve. The intraocular pressure is higher on average in people with high blood pressure but the blood and oxygen flow i.e. perfusion pressure is also more. This balance should protect against optic nerve damage.

Another factor is that controlling high blood pressure does not have any effect on glaucoma and does not reduce risk of vision loss. This suggests that the two conditions may not be interrelated. However, there is a definite link between low blood pressure and glaucoma. Low blood pressure is indeed a risk factor for glaucoma.  

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