Hypertensive Retinopathy

Hypertensive Retinopathy is a condition wherein high systemic blood pressure (hypertension) causes secondary retinal detachments and/or retinal hemorrhages and results in sudden complete or partial blindness. The problem tends to occur most frequently in elderly cats and those with kidney disease.

The retina is the layer of nervous tissue that normally lies flat against the back of the eye. It is responsible for collecting light impulses, which are then transferred to the brain and interpreted as vision. When the retinas detach from their normal position, they cease to function and the patient becomes blind. With prompt and proper treatment however, we may be able to achieve retinal reattachment and subsequently regain some vision

Unlike humans, high blood pressure in cats and dogs is not caused by a poor diet. Instead, hypertension in animals is usually secondary to another problem such as kidney or heart disease, Cushing’s Disease, or hyperthyroidism. Treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy usually involves an investigation into possible underlying diseases responsible for the hypertension. Management of concurrent diseases by your primary care veterinarian should help control the hypertension and help to reattach the retinas. Periodic evaluations of the eyes can help diagnose and treat secondary complications such as glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye) or uveitis (inflammation within the eye).

If you notice a sudden loss of vision in your cat, please call our office immediately to schedule a consultation.