In addition to being the chief cause of death in developed countries, systemic hypertension is also a leading cause of visual impairment. The eye is an end arteriolar system and is therefore susceptible to changes in blood pressure. It is also the only place where blood vessels can be clearly viewed by noninvasive techniques. This paper reviews current research into premalignant and malignant retinal signs of systemic hypertension. Previous methods of classifying retinal hypertensive signs are identified, along with more recent image analysis techniques. The need for observing the retinal vasculature as well as measuring blood pressure for monitoring systemic hypertensive patients is discussed in relation to current research. Copyright © 2002 by Current Science Inc.