Spotting Health Issue in Your Eye

March 4, 2013 10:52:14 AM PST
They're said to be the window to our soul, but they're also the window to your health. There are potentially dangerous conditions doctors can see just by looking into your eyes.

A close look at our eyes could be all doctors need to get a glimpse at some serious problems.

"There's a lot of different things that the eyes can do that reflect general health," Allen Ho, MD, a Retina Surgeon, at Wills Eye Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Follow along as we take a look at what your eyes are trying to tell you. If they've taken on a yellowish hue, you could be suffering from liver disease, like hepatitis or cirrhosis. Yellowish deposits on your lids could mean high cholesterol. A thin gray ring around the cornea can also mean high cholesterol, putting you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

"The eyes are really an extension of the brain," explained Dr. Ho.

Even eyes that are too white can be a problem.

"Because the hemoglobin levels are too low. Because you've got low iron and you're anemic," Julia A. Haller, MD, the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Wills Eye Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Bulging eyes can run in the family, but they're also a sign of a thyroid problem known as Grave's disease. Three-million Americans have it.

"Barbara Bush for example had problems with her eyes, thyroid disease," explained Dr. Haller.

Have your eyelids suddenly started drooping? See your doctor right away! It could be an autoimmune disorder or even a brain tumor.

"We actually even diagnose diseases like AIDS sometimes. We're the ones that pick up that the patient has changes in the eye," explained Dr. Haller.

"So getting a regular eye exam is really important even if you're seeing well," said Dr. Ho.

Helping reveal the health surprises hiding in your eyes.

Even if you're not having vision problems the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye exams every two to four years for those over forty. People over 65 should get screened every year or two, but get checked out right away if you have any problems with loss of vision, pain, or redness.