Is there more to your health than meets the eye? According to experts, your peepers may hold clues to undiagnosed health problems and a routine eye test could reveal the truth.
Optician Andy Hepworth explains: “The eyes are the window into the body offering a great pre-warning for many life-threatening illnesses. “People think they only need their eyes checking for vision problems, but all of us should have regular examinations, as conditions such as diabetes can be detected in the eye before they start to cause problems in the body.”
Meanwhile, here are some common eye symptoms that can be detected by opticians and what they could reveal about your health.
Red Eyes could be high blood pressure. When an optician shines a light into your eyes, they see the tiny blood vessels in your retinas, the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. High blood pressure can make these blood vessels appear twisted – or even cause them to burst so the eyes look red. A quarter of adults with high blood pressure don’t know they have the condition, which can cause strokes.
Yellow deposit behind the eye could be diabetes. Yellow deposits of fat, or small tears in the retina, are signs of Type 2 diabetes. A big change to your glasses prescription is another. Early diagnosis is key to avoiding long-term, sometimes fatal complications.
Iris rings could be high cholesterol. White rings around the iris, the coloured part of the eye are a sign of high cholesterol levels. Another clue is “xanthelasmas” flat, white fat deposits under the skin on or around your eyelids. Studies show people with both these symptoms have a higher risk of heart disease.
Pale inner eyelids could be anaemia. If the inside of your lower eyelids look pale when pulled down, you may be anaemic, lacking iron, which helps makes red blood cells.
Bulging eyes could be Thyroid problems. Prominent-looking eyes can run in families, but eyes that appear to bulge may be evidence of an overactive thyroid. Abnormal levels of thyroid hormone cause the tissues around the eye to swell, making it appear the eye is popping outwards.
Droopy eyelid could be bell's palsy or stroke. A drooping eye can indicate Bell’s Palsy, a temporary facial paralysis. It can also be a symptom of a stroke, especially if the speech is slurred. More rarely, it could also be evidence of a brain tumour or an autoimmune disease that is known as myasthenia gravis.
Differnt sized pupils could be stroke or tumour. Healthy pupils are around the same size and react similarly to light. If one pupil is bigger or shrinks more slowly, there could be a problem, such as a stroke, brain or optic nerve tumour or a brain aneurysm.
Yellow eyes could be liver disease. Liver conditions, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, can turn the whites of your eyes yellow, a symptom which requires an immediate doctor’s trip. The colour is caused by bilirubin, a chemical created by the breakdown of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule inside red blood cells.
Pale Optic nerve could be brain tumour. The optic nerve, which transmits information from the retina to the brain, is visible at the rear of the eye to an optician. A pale optic nerve can be an early manifestation of MS or evidence of a brain tumour.