Who doesn’t know the proverb “The eyes are the window to the soul”? This may or may not be true, but did you know that your eyes are actually the “window” to your overall health? Changes in your eyes can signal not only vision problems, but also diabetes, stress, and numerous other conditions. Everything from liver health to cholesterol levels can be reflected by the eyes in some way.
While it’s always a good idea to see a doctor, some of these you can see for yourself. Many conditions cause symptoms throughout the body — some show up in the skin, others in the mouth, and some even in fingernails — but the eye is one spot that reveals a particularly large percentage of health issues. That’s why eye doctors (ophthalmologists) are among the first to spot certain problems. Consider that a study of 120,000 patients by the insurance company VSP Vision Care found that an eye exam was the first indicator of 34% of diabetes cases, 39% of cases of high blood pressure, and a shocking 62% of cases of high cholesterol.
So let’s take a closer look of what your eyes can reveal to know where it’s time to see a doctor.
Lots of people have diabetes without even knowing. But the disease often causes telltale changes in the retina that can be picked up by an ophthalmologist. Red spots, caused by dots of blood in the eye, can be a sign of diabetes. This happens if blood sugar builds up too high, as blood vessels begin to get blocked and to swell up. This can burst the tiny blood vessels in the retina, causing bleeding.
Blurred vision usually means you need to wear glasses, but in other cases, it can be caused by far more serious illness like diabetes or glaucoma. In fact, an August 2014 study found that 73 percent of diabetic patients sampled reported blurred vision. Also, individuals with glaucoma sometimes experience blurriness or tunnel vision as a symptom of this condition. If blurry vision occurs over time, it could simply point to problems with a person’s eyesight. On the other hand, an abrupt and dramatic loss of vision may be a sign of a problem with the blood flow to your eye or your brain, so it is a strong indicator of a stroke.