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What your eyes say about your health

When someone is the picture of health, you can usually see it shining through their eyes. And the same can be said for when they are unwell, as the eyes appear dull or bloodshot.

When a doctor is checking out your health via the eyes they will be able to see arteries, veins and nerves which are an indication of what is going on inside the body. For the patient, taking note of what their eyes are telling them can lead to uncovering health issues that they were otherwise unaware of. Some of the health complaints that can be picked up through the eyes are:

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can cause the tiny blood vessels in the retina to narrow or expand. If an eye doctor picks up on these changes in the blood vessels in your eyes, they will know that there is a good chance the bigger vessels that supply important organs such as your heart and brain may also be experiencing the same problems. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease or stroke, so if an eye doctor notices these changes to the blood vessels they will send you to a specialist to be checked immediately.

Inflammation

Inflammatory diseases, like Crohn’s or rheumatoid arthritis, can show in your eyes. If your eyes are achy and bloodshot, even when you’ve been sleeping well, it might be time to see a doctor as the inflammation that is causing these diseases may be presenting in your eyes as well.

Diabetes

Another chronic health condition that may be identified during an eye exam is diabetes. High blood sugar levels can be visible in several places within the eye such as the retina and the macula. For example, the blood vessels in the retina will be weakened, which will cause protein to leak into the macula (which is what helps you focus), and oxygen and nutrients will be blocked from getting to the back of the eye.

Stress

Another thing that can cause blurry vision is a good dose of stress. Central Serous Retinopathy is a condition that means you have a build up of fluid under the retina, causing blurry vision. Studies have linked this condition to stress and the adrenaline that we release in periods of high pressure. Usually, the hazy vision will fix itself within four months.

If you are that highly stressed, it is likely that your vision is not the only thing that is suffering. Stress and tension can be held in the neck, back and even show in your posture so a trip to your chiropractor in Seaforth will do wonders to get you back on track as well.

Graves Disease

Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland goes into overdrive and starts producing hormones that attack muscles and tissues within the eye socket. This in turn triggers Graves Disease, which is where your eyes bulge and your neck swells. Around 50% of people who get Graves Disease will end up with eye-related complications.

Allergies

If you are one of the 1 in 5 people who suffer from hayfever in Australia, you will know this one well. Red, itchy eyes and a runny nose could be the signal of allergic rhinitis – or hayfever as it’s commonly known. Another way hayfever can present is through dark circles under the eyes. The same allergens that cause the itching and watering, can also trigger a reaction that causes blood to pool under the eyes, leaving you with dark circles that you just can’t seem to ever sleep off. An antihistamine should do the trick of clearing it up, as well as stop the itching and wheezing.

Multiple Sclerosis

Surprising fact: Nerve disorders often show in the eyes before anywhere else in the body. This means the eyes are a vital early detection system for nerve disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

In fact, up to one quarter of all MS cases are first noticed because of eye problems. The majority of people with MS will have optic neuritis, which is an inflammation of the nerve, and this will present as blurred vision and pain when you move your eyes.

Dietary problems

It’s not a myth that eating carrots will help you see better at night. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, something that is needed to help the eyes work well in the dark. A lack of vitamin A in your diet will mean a decrease in rhodopsin, which controls how you perceive light. To fix your night vision issues, increase the amount of carrots, spinach and sweet potato you have in your diet.

Happiness levels

Finally, your eyes can show how happy you are … and not just from the laugh lines around them. In a 2013 study that tracked eye movement, it was shown that people who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder have a tendency to let their gaze linger for longer on pictures that were considered to be negative stimuli. That is, depressed people took longer to look away from photos of sad faces than happy people did. The theory being that people display a bias toward images that reflect their current state of mind.


July 30, 2016
Georgina Smith