November 8, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

What Your Eyes Say About Your Health

Every year, you probably pay a visit to your general practitioner for a physical, to your dentist for a teeth cleaning, and to your dermatologist for a skin screening. But unless you wear glasses or contacts, you may be tempted to skip the annual eye exam. Your eyes, however, can tell you much more about your health than you realize. According to eyewear company Framesdirect, over 30 medical conditions can be diagnosed by looking into the human eye. This is because your eyes provide a clear view of blood vessels and arteries. Here, we explore five health issues that may be spotted during an eye exam.

Some cancers can show signs in the eyes first. The most common types that spread to the eyes are lung cancer for men and breast cancer for women, according to the eyewear retailer. In addition, eyelid sores and lash loss may be a sign of skin cancer.

High cholesterol
A doctor can detect possible high cholesterol by the presence of a bluish ring near the outside of the cornea. On a more serious (potentially blinding) scale, plaque in one of the small arteries in the eye may be a sign that built-up cholesterol has broken off from a clot, says Dr. Matthew Bovenzi of the State University of New York College of Optometry. (Read about how to lower cholesterol here.)

An eye doctor may notice high blood pressure in patients whose eyes have looping and twisting blood vessels in the retina, or “dents” in retinal veins, which can also indicate a high risk of stroke, says Framesdirect.

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Thyroid disease
Eyes that appear to bulge out of the sockets may signal an overactive thyroid. This is because tissue around the eyes has become inflamed.  Other vision issues related to the disease can include sensitivity to light, pressure in the sockets, a retraction of the eyelids or dry eyes.

Dots of blood in the eye can indicate diabetes. A comprehensive exam that includes eye dilation can detect diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels bleed or leak fluid and can cause vision loss and ultimately blindness. And this condition often goes unnoticed until vision loss has already begun, making it extra important to schedule regular eye exams.

Do you regularly get your eyes checked? Share why or why not in the comments below.

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