Vascular disease, such as peripheral artery disease, hypertension, and stroke, can all have a profound impact on the eyes, even when symptoms are not present. Taking care of your blood vessels and reducing your risk factors not only reduces the incidence of a major vascular event, but it can preserve your eyesight, as well.

Vascular Occlusion

Vascular occlusion occurs when there is reduced blood flow to various parts of the eyes or blood flow has stopped altogether. One reason this occurs is that there is plaque buildup inside the blood vessels responsible for nourishing the eyes. As blood flow decreases, there may be symptoms such as worsening vision loss. If the amount of blood flow is not enough to support the eye or stops abruptly, there may be sudden blindness in the affected eye. Some common risks for vascular occlusion include chronic diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. In many instances, vision loss from occlusion is permanent.


When a stroke occurs, it may not affect the eyes directly, but the effects may damage the processing of visual stimuli in the brain or the connection between the eyes and the brain. Sometimes the visual problems that occur because of a stroke are a partial or complete loss of vision or blurry/double vision. Other, more complex vision problems can also occur, such as those involving visual processing. This means that although a person can see, they may have difficulties interpreting what they see, such as sudden problems naming objects when the communication between visual and speech processing is disrupted, or neglect of objects in the visual field. Since a stroke may damage the nerves and muscles responsible for eye movement, the inability to move the eyes as normal may also contribute to vision problems.

Ocular Hypertension

Much like hypertension increases the pressure inside the blood vessels, ocular hypertension causes a significant increase of pressure inside the eyes as intraocular fluid builds up and cannot escape. In many instances, ocular hypertension is silent and may only be noticed during an eye exam. Vascular disease can increase the risk of developing ocular hypertension. When the pressure builds up inside the eye, it may eventually compress the nerves leading from the eye to the brain. Ultimately, the nerve becomes damaged and nerve impulses that communicate between the eye and brain are disrupted, causing vision loss.

Various types of vascular disease pose a significant risk for vision problems. The best way to preserve your vision is to reduce risk factors for vascular disease and to stay compliant with treatments for chronic diseases.

To learn more about eye problems like these, contact an ophthalmologist.