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6 Things Your Eyes Can Tell You About Your Health

In addition to supplying your vision, your eyes play another important role in your body: they can be markers for underlying health conditions. Read on to find out more.

Eyes can tell a lot about a person. Besides being the window to the soul, your eyes serve another important purpose: providing insight into the state of your health. While your eyes might not be the first place you'd check to determine if you have a health issue, they can definitely provide some clues as to what's going on inside your body. Numerous health conditions can manifest in eye-related symptoms, so it's important to take a good look in the mirror and examine your peepers once in a while to check for any changes or abnormalities. Note that you may not be able to see all of these signs yourself, and if you are experiencing any of them, it does not necessarily mean you have the associated health concern for sure. They are possibilities, but it's best to get checked out by your eye doctor to be certain.

Here are several things your eyes might be telling you about your health:

1. Symptom: Yellow eyes

What it might mean: You have jaundice and possibly liver disease.

Jaundice is identified by a yellow hue to the skin, eyes, bodily fluids or the mucous membranes. While jaundice itself is not a disease, it often signifies an underlying problem. A yellow tinge occurs when there is an excessive amount of bilirubin in your body, which is a yellowish pigment found in bile. Too much bilirubin can occur in your body for a number of reasons, some of them attributed to liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, which involve liver scarring and inflammation.

2.  Symptom: Leaky blood vessels

What it might mean: You have diabetes or are at risk for developing it.

Though they might not always be visible at casual glance, leaky or hemorrhaging blood vessels are easy for your eye doctor to see; they can indicate that you have diabetes or are at high risk of developing it soon. High blood sugar can contribute to weakening the blood vessels in your eyes, and diabetes can also damage your optic nerve--another part of the eye that only your ophthalmologist can view.

3. Symptom: Bloody and/or swollen eyes

 What it might mean: You have high blood pressure and/or heart disease.

Blood vessels that are narrower or larger than usual can signify that your blood pressure is through the roof. Likewise, having a bloody appearance in the whites of your eyes means that your blood vessels have burst, an issue that might be caused by high blood pressure, trauma to the eye or other health conditions. High blood pressure is often co-occurring with heart attacks or heart disease. Swelling around the eyes is another symptom that may indicate you're at a high risk of having a heart attack.

4. Symptom: Unusual pupil size

What it might mean: You are at risk of having a stroke. 

Abnormalities in your pupil size--or if one appears larger than the other--may suggest that your risk of having a stroke is high. Similarly, the optic nerve may exhibit damage if you have experienced a stroke or are at risk of having one, as illustrated through a recent study. The research found that victims of stroke exhibited enlarged optic nerve sheaths in their eyes. Blurriness or loss of vision might also be a sign that you are having a stroke or have a high likelihood of developing one soon. 

5. Symptom: Irregular eye movement patterns and gazes

What it might mean: You have a mental health condition.

Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that irregular eye movement patterns in patients who watched a moving object were associated with psychiatric disorders. Similarly, a study found that depressed people and people who were depressed in the past gazed longer at certain images than people who were not depressed did, suggesting that how long you fixate on something with your eyes may correspond with mental health disorders.

6. Symptom: Irritated eyes

What it might mean: You have allergies.

If your eyes are dry, red, itchy or watery, it's possible that you have allergies. Environmental allergens can make their way to your eyes, wreaking havoc and causing irritation. 

Your eyes provide important clues as to what's going on inside your body. To maintain great eye health and be on the lookout for any health conditions that might show up in your eyes, you should have a thorough examination every year. If you notice an unusual appearance in your eyes or suspect that you might have an underlying health condition, talk to your doctor right away.

Thanks for reading, and check back next time for more health news!


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