They say eyes are windows into your soul. Well, they are also windows into potential health concerns.
There are several indications of how the eyes play a role in your overall health. Here are several concerns to recognize and be aware of.
- Cognitive Decline
A study completed last March showed that participants with moderate to severe retinopathy (over 3 years) would likely score worse on memory and thinking tests than healthy-eyed participants.Over 20 years, participants displaying retinopathy had average test scores decrease by 1.22 standard deviation units. Comparatively, healthy eyed subjects only dropped 0.91 standard deviation units.There is a direct correlation between the health of retinal blood vessels and brain blood vessels.
People affected by diabetes may experience vision fluctuations when failing to manage their blood sugar levels. Poor blood sugar control can cause changes to the lens inside the eye which, in turn, takes a toll on vision. For diabetes patients, this symptom manifests itself when vision gets blurry then returns to normal.Long term diabetes can result in diabetic retinopathy which is one of the leading causes of blindness. This is why it’s especially important to have annual eye health exams if you have diabetes.
- High Blood Pressure
When somebody is suffering from high blood pressure, the damage inflicted on the blood vessels can cause hemorrhaging and leaking. This can lead to a condition called hypertensive retinopathy which can result in loss of vision.Fortunately, blood vessel changes are quite apparent during eye exams.
- High Cholesterol
Signs of high cholesterol may show up directly on the cornea at the front of an eye, or around the eyes. These fatty, yellowish lumps are known as xanthelasma.Although the formation of xanthelasma deposits doesn’t guarantee a cholesterol problem, it’s important to do a lipid panel to evaluate your serum cholesterol level if your doctor sees xanthelasma in your eyes.
- Heart Disease
Plaque that is clogging the carotid artery can break off and travel into the eye. When plaque clogs eye arteries, it is called an embolus, which creates a risk for stroke. Embolus that are passing through the eyes can be seen during a careful retinal exam. Your eyes provide a lot of information about your whole body health, and is a great early warning sign that allows you seek treatment before it becomes a big health problem.
- Multiple Sclerosis
Sudden vision loss could indicate Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS patients often experience a change in their optic nerve’s color and appearance. They can also see double vision especially when looking from right to left. We evaluate for many different eye and health problems during a retinal exam. This is one of the main reasons to have your eyes fully examined every year.
- Thyroid Disease
People with thyroid issues often develop dry eye disease. It’s due to the thyroid controlling the hormones also being responsible for producing tears.However, this isn’t the only way thyroid conditions can impact a patient’s eyes. They also cause the muscles responsible for eye movement (extraocular muscles) to enlarge and stiffen. Specifically, bulging eyes are directly linked to a thyroid disorder known as Graves’ disease.
An eye exam is much more than just checking for a glasses or contact lens prescription. The most important part of an annual eye exam is to evaluate the health of your eyes for eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration which have no symptoms.
The added benefit of a comprehensive eye exam, is that general health problems can also be picked up by examining your eyes. Our eyes are closely linked to overall health and wellness, and this is why the eyes are the windows to your health!
Dr. Brisco at the Hollywood Vision Center is an Integrative Optometrist, and is one of the few eye doctors in the nation who is also a Certified Clinical Homeopath. Our practice is all about connecting vision to a higher standard of well-being, helping our patients understand these concerns and steering them towards the right treatment plan remains one of our most prevalent priorities. Contact us today at 323-954-5800 to schedule an appointment for a holistic eye exam.