Accessibility View Close toolbar

What Do Your Eyes Say About Your Health?

Image of a woman making a window with her fingers over her eyes.

Have you ever wondered why your eye care provider spends so much time carefully examining your eyes? Although they are looking for diseases or conditions that can affect your vision during eye exams, he or she is also searching for signs that may indicate that you have a general health problem. These eight diseases often cause symptoms that can be seen in your eyes.

Diabetes

When your blood sugar is high for a long period of time, the small blood vessels in your retina may begin to leak, causing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. The retina lines the back of your eye and sends light signals to the brain, where they're interpreted as images. When your vessels leak blood or fluid, your vision can become blurred, and you may lose central vision or the ability to see colors. If diabetic retinopathy progresses, new blood vessels form in the retina, worsening vision problems. Prompt treatment of diabetic retinopathy helps prevent permanent damage to your vision.

Cataracts, a condition that occurs when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy, can be another clue that you may have diabetes. People who have diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop the condition than those who don't, according to the American Diabetes Association. Cataracts may also appear at a younger age and progress more rapidly if you have diabetes.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol occurs when a fatty substance called plaque narrows your arteries, increasing your risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In some cases, fat deposits form a partial or full white ring around the edge of your corneas. The deposits, common in older people, can be a sign of cholesterol problem if you're under 40.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Iritis, an inflammation of the iris, may be more likely to occur if you have ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory form of arthritis. Pain often starts in the lower back but can eventually spread to your neck, hips, ribs, shoulders and heels as the disease progresses. If you have iritis, your eye may be painful, red and very sensitive to light.

Liver Damage

Yellow eyes or skin can be a sign of jaundice, a condition that occurs when your liver produces too much bilirubin in response to inflammation or damage. Damage can occur due to viruses, autoimmune disorders, genetic diseases or alcohol abuse.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle-shaped blood cells block vessels, causing severe pain, anemia and fatigue if you have sickle cell disease. The blood vessels in the eyes can also be affected by the disease. Common eye symptoms of sickle cell disease include eye pain and redness, peripheral vision loss, blurry vision, floaters and jaundice. Blockage of the blood vessels in the retina may lead to a hemorrhage of the retina or vitreous, the clear gel that gives the eye its shape. It's important to see your eye care professional as soon as possible if you have sickle cell disease and notice changes in your vision.

Myasthenia Gravis

Drooping eyelids are the first symptom of myasthenia gravis for 50 percent of people who develop the autoimmune disorder, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital. The disorder attacks and weakens the muscles in your body under your control, such as those in your arms and legs. If you have myasthenia gravis, you may find it hard to walk or hold your head upright. The condition can also affect your ability to chew, speak and breathe.

Heart Disease

It makes sense that blood vessels in the eye would be just as affected as vessels in other parts of your body if you have heart disease. Minor changes to the vessels in your retina, such as swelling or narrowing, or swelling of the base of the optic nerve, may mean that you're at risk of developing heart disease. Luckily, once you know that you have risk factors for heart disease, you can make diet and lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.

Brain and Nerve Conditions

Eye twitches often occur if you're tired, stressed, or if your eye is irritated. Although most eye twitches aren't serious, the symptom can sometimes be a sign of a brain or nerve condition, such as Bell's palsy, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

Regular visits to your eye care provider not only helps protect your vision, but also safeguards your general health. If it's been a while since you've visited our office, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

American Diabetes Association: Eye Complications, 11/1/13

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/

Brigham and Women's Hospital: Ocular Myasthenia Gravis

http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/neurology/services/NeuroOphthamology/OcularMyasthenia.aspx

WebMD: What Your Eyes Say About Your Health, 8/8/16

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/ss/slideshow-eyes-health

Readers Digest: Shocking Diseases That Eye Doctors Find First

https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/shocking-diseases-eye-doctors-find-first/

Scribd: Early Chronic Condition Detection: Via Eye Exam Study Findings

https://www.scribd.com/doc/240319966/VSP-HCMS-White-Paper-Study?secret_password=WYXzze2C7r2ITaWzg6mJ&irgwc=1&content=10079&campaign=Skimbit%2C%20Ltd.&ad_group=35871X943606Xf3ab1380ea8139d2748ac7f46ac2b856&keyword=ft750noi&source=impactradius&medium=affiliate

Contact Us

We look forward to hearing from you.

No form settings found. Please configure it.

Summer Office Hours

Monday:

8:00am

5:00pm

Tuesday:

8:00am

5:00pm

Wednesday:

8:00am

3:00pm

Thursday:

Closed

Closed

Friday:

8:00am

3:00pm

Saturday:

Closed

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Testimonials coming soon..."

Featured Articles

Read up on informative topics

  • Does Outside Playtime Improve Children's Eyesight?

    Have you ever wondered why some people become nearsighted? Lack of time in the sun may be to blame. ...

    Read More
  • What Happens When You Don't Wear Sunglasses?

    Have you lost your sunglasses again? Failing to wear the glasses consistently may lead to several eye conditions. ...

    Read More
  • Curbing Macular Degeneration

    Macular degeneration represents one of the most significant causes of vision loss in older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.8 million people currently suffer from macular degeneration, with an additional 7.3 million people at risk of developing this ...

    Read More
  • Premature Babies and Vision Problems

    Prematurity can cause a range of vision problems. Fortunately, optometrists offer a range of treatments and devices that can improve your child's ability to see. ...

    Read More
  • What Do Your Eyes Say About Your Health?

    Subtle changes in your eyes may be the first signs of a health problem. ...

    Read More
  • Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

    Does your cosmetics make your eyes water and burn? Try these makeup tips for sensitive eyes. ...

    Read More
  • How to Clean Your Eyeglasses

    Do you know how to clean your eyeglasses correctly? Take a look a few tips that will keep your specs cleaner. ...

    Read More
  • All About Amblyopia

    Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a visual disorder caused by abnormal vision development, often occurring during infancy. Patients with amblyopia have reduced vision in one eye, because it is not working properly in conjunction with the brain. With early detection and proper treatment, loss of ...

    Read More
  • All About Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is a serious disorder that can damage the optic nerves of your eyes if left untreated. The optic nerve carries images from your eyes to your brain. If the nerve is damaged, full or partial vision loss can occur. In some cases, people develop glaucoma because the pressure in their eyes begins ...

    Read More
  • Binocular Vision: Disorders and Treatment

    For many, the term binocular vision conjures images of super powers or the rare ability to spot objects far away, but having binocular vision simply means having two eyes with which to see. Binocular vision does lend creatures with two eyes advantages over those with only one, such as enhanced vision, ...

    Read More

Newsletter Sign Up

No form settings found. Please configure it.