Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra
versión impresa ISSN 1137-6627
Systemic Arterial hypertension (AHT) is one of the most frequent diseases in the industrialised countries, with an incidence reaching 30%, a figure that is rising due to the greater life expectancy of the population. This rise in arterial tension causes, or accelerates, changes in the vascular wall of the target organs such as the kidney, brain, heart and eye. At the ocular level, AHT produces lesions in the retina, the choroids and optic nerve head; this can include a wide range of lesions, from slight vascular narrowing to severe visual loss due to ischaemic optical neuropathy. The primary response of the retinal arteries to systemic arterial hypertension is vascular narrowing and the manifestations that appear at the back of the eye in hypertensive retinopathy are diffuse or focal vasoconstriction, extravasation due to increased vascular permeability and arteriosclerosis with swelling of the wall of the vessels. These three entities are responsible for the appearance of different lesions that characterise the stages of the retinal disease, which are: arteriovenous crossings, hard and cotton-like exudates, thrombosis, embolisms, haemorrhages in the retinal parenchyma, vitreous detachment from the retina, papilla edema and ischaemic optical neuropathy in the more severe cases, such as in case malign arterial hypertension.
Palabras clave : Arterial hypertension; Hypertensive retinopathy; Retinal exudates; Arteriovenous crossings.