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Surgeon David Allamby FRCS(Ed), FRCOphth
 David Allamby

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7 surprising things your eyes can reveal about your health

Learn more about vision correction

09
Dec
2016

Did you know that the eyes can reveal conditions such as cholesterol, mental health, blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer?

It may sound surprising but your eyes are a unique window into your health. It's the only place in the body where, without surgery, you can see veins, arteries, and a nerve (the optic nerve). Not only do your eyes provide all kinds of information about your sight, they can also show signs of a host of other medical conditions that have nothing to do with vision.

7 surprising things your eyes can reveal about your health

1. Diabetes
Although not visible to the naked eye, certain changes in your retina and the blood vessels in your eye could be a sign of diabetes. Undiagnosed diabetes can show up in an eye exam as blood and other yellow-tinged fluid trickling out of the retina. Yellow deposits of fat, or small tears in the retina, are signs of Type 2 diabetes.

2. High blood pressure
If it's left untreated, high blood pressure can be seen in the eyes in the form of bleeding new blood vessels and nicks in those leading to the retina or total retinal detachment.

3. High cholesterol
If you notice a white rings around the iris (the colored part of your eye), it could be a sign of high cholesterol. Older patients are likely to also develop similar white rings, but in any case, it can be a sign that cholesterol needs to be checked by a doctor.

4. Mental health
Unexpectedly, mental health problems can also be detected in a routine eye exam. In recent years, eye specialists have used the same technology used to diagnose glaucoma to help diagnose mental health concerns such as schizophrenia by mapping eye movement patterns.

5. Neurological Problems
Eye ticks are common and benign however they can also be a symptom of neurological problems like sclerosis and Parkinson's. Doctors can check the retina and the optic nerve for symptoms of these problems.

6. Cancer
Metastatic cancers often present themselves in the eyes before any other symptoms show up. For women, breast cancer can be detected, and for men, lung cancer. Neither cancer impairs vision but the eyes can show a yellowish tinge, which alerts the optometrist to the possibility of cancer.

7. Thyroid problem
Prominent-looking eyes can run in families, but eyes that appear to bulge may be evidence of an overactive thyroid. Abnormal levels of thyroid hormone cause the tissues around the eye to swell, making it appear the eye is popping outwards.

Certain health conditions don't impact vision in their early stages, but, those early and indirect effects can still be caught during eye exams. The large number of diseases that cause symptoms in the eye, will hopefully convince people that an annual eye examination is more than worthwhile.

By: David
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