It’s said that the eyes are windows to the soul, but did you know they also provide a sneak peek at our overall health and well-being?
Science shows that our eye health and overall health can tell a lot about each other. For example, our eyes can provide early warning signs that help alert us to existing or developing medical conditions. By observing subtle changes in the color, appearance or functionality of our eyes, eye doctors can detect and treat conditions that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Eye health is connected to overall health
New eye or vision problems may be indicative of other health problems going on in the body. Here are a few examples that help illustrate the connection between eye health and overall health:
Gray or white, and often opaque, rings around the edge of your cornea are typically symptoms of a condition known as corneal arcus. While these rings are generally harmless, there are instances where they may indicate an underlying disorder. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, corneal arcus is most commonly associated with lipid disorders such as hypercholesteremia (high cholesterol) and atherosclerotic disease, also known as “the hardening of the arteries,” especially in individuals under the age of 40. Atherosclerotic disease may not present noticeable symptoms initially, but over time, plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to narrowing, hindering blood flow to organs and increasing the risk of blood clot formation.
Double vision, or diplopia, is a condition where you see two identical images (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) instead of one. Double vision can be mild or severe, depending on the type. For example, if you see double with only one eye open (monocular diplopia), it’s usually due to benign issues within the eye and is less likely to be neurological. However, when double vision occurs with both eyes open (binocular diplopia), it could indicate more severe conditions such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, strokes, giant cell arteritis, or others.
If you notice the whites of your eyes turning yellow, it could indicate an underlying health issue. Yellowing in the whites of your eyes often suggests that your body is not correctly eliminating excess bilirubin (bile). This buildup can deposit into the tissue of the eyes, making the white look yellow. Yellowish eyes are an easy-to-spot symptom of various diseases, including anemia, viral hepatitis, liver damage and even gallbladder cancer.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 150 million Americans in the United States wear glasses or contacts to correct blurry vision. However, vision that is neither sharp nor crisp could be a sign of a more serious eye condition such as cataracts, glaucoma or diabetes.
Monitoring eye health is important for overall health
Even if you don’t wear glasses, it’s important to go for an annual eye exam. Eye exams can help detect changes in the eyes that may indicate something more serious is going on in the body. If you notice any of the signs above, promptly seek professional assistance to safeguard your eye health and overall health.
Vision insurance can help you maintain optimal eye health and detect potentially serious problems early on. If you have any concerns regarding your vision or need to schedule your annual appointment, click here to discover a vision doctor near you.