Our eyes can predict disease

The eyes are unique windows into health and the only place in the body where, without surgery, doctors can look in and see veins, arteries and the optic nerve.

The eyes are unique windows into health and the only place in the body where, without surgery, doctors can look in and see veins, arteries and the optic nerve.

This transparency explains why common eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration can be detected early with regular eye exams. It is also why eye doctors sometimes discover other problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or liver disease.

Vision is one of our most precious senses, but it is easy to take the gift of sight for granted — until it starts to fail. Unfortunately, with our busy schedules, many of us procrastinate on scheduling eye exams and regular physicals as well.

One of the leading causes of blindness in American adults is diabetes. This is disconcerting when you consider that today nearly one in four Americans are either pre-diabetic or diabetic.

The increased use of computers and video display terminals (VDTs) at home and work has also led to an increase in vision problems due to eye strain.

Yahoo Health has assembled a list of 14 things your eyes can tell you about your body. Here are some of them:

Disappearing eyebrows — When the outer third of the eyebrow starts to disappear on its own, this is a common sign of thyroid disease.

A stye that will not go away — If it does not clear up in three months or keeps recurring in the same location, it could be a rare cancer called sebaceous gland carcinoma.

Burning eyes, blurry vision while using a computer — This is the result of “computer vision syndrome” (CVS) and is partly caused by a lack of contrast on the screen, as well as the extra work involved in focusing on pixels.

A small blind spot in your vision, with shimmering lights or a wavy line — A migraine aura produces this disturbed vision. It may or may not be accompanied by a headache.

Whites of the eye turned yellowish — This is known as jaundice. It appears in either newborns with immature liver function or adults with problems of the liver, gallbladder or bile ducts.

Eyes that seem to bulge — The most common cause of protruding eyes is hyperthyroidism, which is overactivity of the thyroid gland.

A bump or brown spot on the eyelid — It is easy to overlook the eyelid as a place where skin cancer can strike. Always have any suspicious spots or sores checked out by a dermatologist, family physician or eye doctor.

Blurred vision in a diabetic — Diabetics are at increased risk for several eye problems, but the most common is diabetic retinopathy, in which diabetes affects the circulatory system of the eye. It is the leading cause of blindness in American adults.

Sudden double vision, dim vision or loss of vision — These are the visual warning signs of stroke. Other signs include sudden numbness or weakness of the arm, leg or face (typically on just one side of the body); trouble walking (because of dizziness or loss of balance or coordination); slurred speech; or a bad headache.


Sources: Yahoo Health, February 3, 2011 and www.mercola.com, March 01, 2011.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 2, April/May 2012.

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