Purpose of review
Hypertension is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality that consists a major public health issue worldwide. Hypertension triggers a series of pathophysiological ocular modifications affecting significantly the retinal, choroidal, and optic nerve circulations that result in a range of ocular effects.
The retina is the only place in the body where microvasculature can be directly inspected, providing valuable information on hypertension related systemic risks.
The aim of this review is to provide an update on latest advances regarding the detection and significance of hypertension related eye signs.
It's been shown that measurable retinal microvascular changes may precede progression of systemic microvascular disease.
Last years, there are emerging advances in the field retinal imaging and computer software analysis that have enabled the objective and accurate assessment of retinal vascular caliber, while in association with latest epidemiological studies several other retinal vascular features have been recognized, such as vascular length-to-diameter ratio, and wall-to-lumen ratio that may also be associated to hypertension.
Additionally, recent genetic studies have provided some insight to vascular pathophysiological processes having correlated new chromosome's loci to hypertensive retinopathy signs.
Assessment of hypertensive retinopathy signs may convey additional prognostic information on the risk of end-organ damage and may alert for urgent systemic management or even preventive systemic therapies. Further development of retinal vascular imaging and computerized system may provide a significant tool to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and management of hypertension in clinical practice.