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

Sign up now

All Patients receive 20% OFF Second Pair of Complete Glasses!

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Buhl Office

Monday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-3:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I would like to comment on how perfect Dr. Kelsey is as an eye doctor. We have a mentally handicapped daughter and when he examines her eyes, he is so patient and calm with her, as he is with all of us. I would recommend everyone to visit his office. He is special as is everyone in the office. Everyone is so helpful."
    Meryl C.
  • "We are very impressed with the excellent service we have received at Clarity Family Eyecare. Dr. Nick Kelsey and his staff are very caring, personable, and professional in providing for our family’s eye care needs. We highly recommend Dr. Kelsey at Clarity Family Eyecare."
    Jack and Debbie
  • "I was so relieved when Clarity Family Eyecare opened for business. Time, gas and scheduling for a family of six are a lot easier when appointments are local. It was a bonus to have such a family oriented professional that could relate to us all. I highly recommend Nick Kelsey for your eye care needs and he has cool sunglasses too!"
    Kris G.

Featured Articles

Read up on informative topics

  • Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy

    Fuchs' dystrophy (pronounced fooks DIS-truh-fee) is an eye disease characterized by degenerative changes to the cornea’s innermost layer of cells. The cause for Fuchs' dystrophy is not fully understood. If your mother or father has the disease, then there is roughly a 50 percent chance that you will ...

    Read More
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    One of the leading causes of vision loss in people who are age 50 or older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This common eye condition leads to damage of a small spot near the center of the retina called the macula. The macula provides us with the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ...

    Read More
  • Diabetic Eye Diseases

    Diabetes is a condition that involves high blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can affect many parts of the body, including the eyes. One of the most common diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy, which is also a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    Somewhere around the age of 40, most people’s eyes lose the ability to focus on close-up objects. This condition is called presbyopia. You may start holding reading material farther away, because it is blurry up close. Reading suddenly gives you eyestrain. You might wonder when manufacturers started ...

    Read More
  • Laser Cataract Surgery

    The only way to correct the clouded vision caused by advanced cataracts is surgical intervention. If you find yourself pursuing cataract surgery to remove one or both cataract-disease lenses, you may be wondering what surgical approaches are available for treatment. Although eye surgeons have successfully ...

    Read More
  • Cataract Surgery

    With cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist removes the cataract-diseased lens of your eye. The ophthalmologist then replaces your natural lens with an artificial one. The Procedure This outpatient procedure is generally safe and takes less than an hour. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your pupil ...

    Read More
  • Peripheral Vision Loss

    Normal sight includes central vision (the field of view straight ahead) and peripheral vision (the field of view outside the circle of central vision). The inability to see within a normal range of view often indicates peripheral vision loss. In severe cases of peripheral vision loss, individuals only ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    As we age, our eyes—like the rest of our bodies—begin to lose flexibility and strength. When this happens to the lens of the eye and its surrounding muscles, your lens will become stiff. This makes it harder to see close objects clearly because the eyes can't focus properly. It's a natural part of ...

    Read More
  • Patches

    Eye patches are used to strengthen muscle control in weak eyes. By placing a patch over the strong eye, the weaker eye is forced to do the heavy lifting. While it may be uncomfortable for the patient at first, the muscle controlling the weaker eye will become tougher and more resilient. This will allow ...

    Read More
  • How to Transition Into Different Lighted Situations

    Does it take a little while for your eyes to adjust to the dark? Try a few of these tips. ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles