I spy with my little eye: Clues about your health!

Eye Health

By pH health care professionals

You are visiting a general doctor’s office. You are sitting down and having a brief chat with the doctor. Unexpectedly, your doctor asks if have a particular ailment such as heart, kidney, liver or thyroid disease. This takes you by surprise because you didn’t realize the doctor was examining you yet. But perhaps the exam began at your first “hello.” Why? Because doctors can detect clues about your health just by looking at your eyes.

What are some of the clues a doctor may pick up on at a glance?

  •          Eyelid swelling without redness may point to a kidney disease or allergies.
  •          Yellowish-colored eyes where they are typically white may indicate the liver’s inability to metabolize and excrete bilirubin.
  •          Disappearing lateral eyebrows or unusually bulging eyes may indicate thyroid disease.
  •          Fatty deposits on eyelids and white rings around the iris are both associated with high cholesterol.  
  •          Dry eyes can be a sign of excessive computer use, a side effect of medications or autoimmune disease.

While a doctor can pick up on many of these clues just by looking, a more thorough dilated eye exam  by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can give you a better picture for detecting eye and other diseases. In fact, insurance companies are even using eye exams as predictors for diseases. This is because eye exams can help identify who is at higher or lower risk for certain diseases and also help with early detection, which can save money in the long run with fewer ER and hospital visits.

Here are a few ways eye exams are being used to identify diseases:

  •          Detecting blood vessel diseases. New studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, are using retinal scans to identify blood vessel diseases in their early stages at a more advanced level.
  •          Finding hypertension and diabetes warning signs. It is well-known that hypertension and diabetes can show up as narrowing of small retinal blood vessels. You may not even realize that there is a problem at all, but is clear that your blood vessels show changes indicating current or future medical conditions. Other disease like leukemia, sickle cell disease may also affect blood vessels and appearance of your retina. Eye exams were the first indicator for 34 percent of diabetes cases, 39 percent of high blood pressure cases and 62 percent of high cholesterol cases, according to a 2013 study by the HCMS group.
  •          Seeing Alzheimer’s predictors. Alzheimer’s disease currently affects at least 17 percent of females and 9 percent of males over a lifespan, mostly after age 65, and is projected to significantly increase in the next 10 years in the U.S. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an increased amount of degenerative proteins called “amyloid” in the brain. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai found a correlation between amyloid deposits in the retina and in the brain.

When are eye exams recommended?

Click here to view the American Optometric Association’s suggested guidelines for how often to get eye exams by age.  

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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