What do your eyes say about your health?
The eye may, or may not be, the window to the soul. But the eyes are definitely a window into the body.
Thanks to the connection with the optic nerve at the back of the eye, your eyes give doctors an exclusive look into your central nervous system. This is one reason why your eyes can often show the first signs of health problems and potential issues in the body.
Everyone’s eyes are different. But there are certain common signs that you and your eye doctor can pick up simply by screening your eyes.
Let’s take a look at a few of them and find out what your eyes could be trying to tell you about your health.
You’re stressed out
Whether due to work or just daily life, when you’re tired and stressed out, your body can switch into high alert mode, in which you’re constantly monitoring for threats and interpreting everything as signs of potential danger.
To aid this process, one change that happens in your body is your vision becomes narrowed and focused. If this happens a lot, you can develop a constant frown and chronically tense muscles around the eyes, temples, and forehead.
Another sign of high stress is an eye twitch. More annoying than a cause for concern, an eye twitch and all the above symptoms can be managed by taking some time out to rest and manage your stress levels.
Your blood pressure is too high
One of the effects of high blood pressure, along with a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, is something called hypertensive retinopathy.
Hypertensive retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in your retina are damaged due to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is when there is an increase in how hard your heart is working due to resistance to the blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
You can’t see the effects of high blood pressure on your eyes in the mirror, but eye doctors can spot the effects by assessing your retinas during an eye exam.
You may have jaundice
The whites of your eyes can say a lot about your health. Most noticeably is if they’re turning a yellowish colour, like old paper, then you may have jaundice.
Jaundice is a condition that occurs when your liver fails to filter bilirubin—a yellow waste material formed from the breakdown of red blood cells—from your blood. The result is a yellowing of your eyes and skin, which serves to act as a warning sign of something going wrong in your body.
For instance, jaundice can be a sign of an inflamed liver due to something like alcohol-related liver disease, an infection like hepatitis, or something blocking your bile ducts like cancer or gallstones.
You may have high cholesterol and triglycerides
You may notice a grey or white ring forming around your iris as you get older. For some, this is a normal sign of ageing. For others, it can be an indication of high cholesterol and triglycerides.
The ring, which doctors call arcus senilis, is a deposit of fats and cholesterol in the eye. And as high cholesterol and triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, if you notice it, especially if you’re under 60, it’s worth getting it checked out.
You may have anisocoria
Anisocoria sounds like some rare condition that you’ll never encounter. Yet, most people have anisocoria to some degree or other.
Coming from the Greek meaning “unequal” and “core”, anisocoria is when the pupils are different sizes. One may be bigger—more dilated—while the other may be smaller—more constricted—than the other.
Most causes of anisocoria have no underlying pathology and are nothing to be concerned about. A sudden change in your pupil size, however, can indicate certain medical problems such as eye trauma, inflammation of the iris—iritis—or a neurological disorder.
If you notice you have one pupil significantly larger or smaller than the other, make sure you go for a comprehensive eye exam.
You may have thyroid issues
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the back of your neck, releases hormones that control metabolism—the way your body uses energy.
The hormones of the thyroid help do everything from regulating your breathing and heart rate to your strength, menstrual cycles, and body weight. When the thyroid is overactive— hyperthyroidism—you can experience dry eye, blurry vision, or even pain when you move your eyes.
Sometimes the signs of thyroid issues can be detected through an eye exam. Even if you experience no symptoms at all, an eye doctor can discover a lot about your thyroid from your eyes.
You are lacking sleep
Everyone knows the eyes are the biggest give away of not getting enough sleep. As well as appearing puffy and red, they can also become swollen and develop dark circles underneath.
Such symptoms don’t happen to everyone. For some people, they may simply run in the family. What’s more, other factors like fluid retention, stress, and allergies can increase their appearance.
That being said, when you’re sleeping, you don’t blink. Blinking is essentially exercising for the eyes which aid circulation and helps transport fluids to and from your peepers.
And so, your eyes may appear puffy in the morning simply because, like you, they’ve been resting all night and need some waking up before they can look their best.
If you’d like to find out how Laser Eye Surgery can benefit your eyes, leave a comment below or get in touch with one of our friendly Clinic Coordinators.