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Could Our Eyes Be The Windows To Our Overall Health?

September 27, 2012

When it comes to our health and well being, there’s more than meets the eye.

They say that a person’s eyes can tell you a lot about them―how they’re feeling, what kind of person they are, and even where they have been in their past. And while the eyes may very well be the window to a person’s soul, for eye doctors, looking into your eyes can often reveal so much more about your vision and overall health.

In the grand scheme of things, the eye’s have one simple job in relation to the rest of the body: deliver vision by turning incoming light and images into messages that our brain can comprehend.  However, because our entire body’s system and organs are interconnected, simple changes that occur in our eyes can often reflect problems that begin in our immune, vascular and nervous systems.

Because of this, our eyes offer a unique glimpse into the body’s tissue, blood vessels and nerves, all of which can be seen directly through the eye by using specialized equipment. The ability to view the eye and uncover vision problems is also improving each and every day. For instance, a new machine created in Scotland is giving eye doctors the ability to get a 200-degree view of the eye, instead of the typical 30-degree view. This will allow for a much better screening of the periphery of the retina, helping doctors to further uncover possible autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

However, even through simple monitoring of the eyes and yearly eye examinations, eye doctors are still able to discover certain medical problems that could lead to early diagnosis and treatment among patients. Here are just a few vision signs that may signal more about your overall health and well being:


When the optic disc or optic nerve is swollen, it may point to other problems in an otherwise healthy individual. For instance, if a patient has a symmetrical decreased field of vision and their optic disc (a portion of the optic nerve) is swollen, this could be a sign of a brain tumor, although this is a very rare circumstance. However, if inflammation is met with decreased vision and slight pain, it could also suggest multiple sclerosis.

Damaged Blood Vessels

One particular type of disease that is notorious for creating major changes within the eye is diabetes. For many diabetic patients, additional blood vessels can grow within the eye and sit themselves inside the vitreous, a sticky gel which fills the inter cavity near the retina. In more serious cases, such as diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels within the eye can even hemorrhage and leak blood and fluid. This could cause eye tissue to lose oxygen and eventually diet, sometimes leading to permanent vision damage.


For people with heart diseases and other stroke risk factors, the eyes can often help to predict stroke risk in affected patients. This is due to blood vessel clots within the eye which stem from other blood cloths in the arteries of the neck and head. Thickened blood vessel walls along with narrowing vessels can also be signs of high blood pressure.

To help uncover these problems early on, we recommend that adults with no vision problems or health symptoms receive eye examinations every two to three years. Once you reach the age of 55 and up, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye exams every one to three years, and yearly for those aged 65 and up. To schedule your comprehensive eye examination today, be sure to contact OCLI.


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