Your eyes can offer a glimpse into your overall health. Changes in your eyes often signal that something else is going on in your body. While many conditions may not be serious, others may require medical attention to prevent serious and permanent complications.
So it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly by an ophthalmologist so that potential problems can be detected and treated before they worsen.
5 things your eyes say about your health
- Redness: Your eyes could be red due to blunt trauma (subconjunctival hemorrhage), infection, or allergies. There may also be other associated symptoms, such as watery or itchy eyes.
- Dryness: Dry eyes could be a result of the environment, hormonal changes, certain medications, excessive screen time, aging, diseases of the eye or tear glands, or systemic diseases.
- Bumps or infection on the eyelid: Oil glands around the eyelash follicles can get clogged, resulting in infection, pain, redness, discharge, swelling, and crusting of the eyelid.
- Twitching: Eyelid myokymia is typically not serious and goes away on its own, often caused by excessive caffeine intake, stress, or lack of sleep. If other parts of the face are also twitching, however, it could be a sign of something more serious.
- Sudden blurry vision: Vision changes can be caused by refractive errors (near or farsightedness), glaucoma, cataracts (opacification of the lens), diseases of the retina, or tumors in the eye or skull base. Abrupt changes in vision may indicate a problem with blood flow to your eye or brain, so make sure to get checked out by a doctor.
What diseases can cause eye symptoms?
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause the small blood vessels in the retina to leak blood or fluid, resulting in a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This can cause blurry vision, loss of color vision, and permanent damage to vision. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of cataracts.
- High cholesterol: When cholesterol levels are high, fat deposits can form a partial or full white ring around the edge of the corneas. High blood cholesterol may also lead to xanthelasma, where yellowish plaque deposits accumulate underneath eyelid skin.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: People suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory form of arthritis) have a higher risk of developing iritis, which is inflammation of the iris. Iritis can cause eye pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, such as leaking, narrowing, hardening, and swelling. This can cause blurry vision or even loss of vision.
- Liver disease: With liver disease, the sclera (whites of the eyes) can turn yellow, a sign of jaundice. Jaundice occurs when your liver produces too much bilirubin due to inflammation, damage, drugs, infection, or alcohol abuse.
- Sickle cell disease: Sickle cell disease is where the red blood cells form a distorted shape (sickle-shape), interfering with oxygen delivery to the tissues and causing blocked vessels in the eyes. This can lead to eye pain, redness, loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, floaters, jaundice, etc.
- Myasthenia gravis: Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and weakens the muscles in the body and can cause symptoms such as drooping of eyelids, which is the first symptom of myasthenia gravis in about 50% of cases.
- Brain and nerve conditions: Brain conditions (such as tumors) or nerve conditions (such as Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis) can affect vision or cause other problems such as drooping of the eyelids and an inability to close the eyes completely.
- Thyroid disease: Symptoms that affect the eyes in certain thyroid diseases include bulging eyes, double vision, dry eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, difficulty closing the eyes, and vision problems.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
D'Angelo Friedman J. What Your Eyes Say About Your Health. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/features/what-your-eyes-say-about-your-health#1
Mukamal R. Your Eyes Could Be the Windows to Your Health. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/diagnosing-systemic-diseases-eye-exams
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