What your eyes say about your health


They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but according to medical experts, they're also an insightful window into your health.

The eye is the only place on the body where healthcare providers can observe a patient's arteries, veins and nerves without surgery. Ophthalmologists use eye exams to detect common eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, but these exams can often uncover other health issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure. 

Here are some common eye symptoms that may indicate a larger health problem. If you notice any of these signs, contact your healthcare provider right away. 

Bumpy, yellowish patches on the eyelid or white rings around the eyes may be signs of high cholesterol. One study even found that an eye exam was the first indicator of 62 percent of cases of high cholesterol.

Red, itchy eyes are common, but when they're accompanied by sneezing, coughing, sinus congestion and/or a runny nose, your body may be signalling an allergic reaction. 

Yellowish whites of the eyes may be the result of liver, gallbladder or bile duct issues.

A stye — a painful red bump that appears on the inner or outer eyelid — is usually just an irritating but harmless infection. But if your stye doesn't go away after three months, or if it keeps coming back in the same place, it could signal a rare cancer called sebaceous gland carcinoma.

Bumps and brown spots on the eyelids can also be a sign of cancer, usually basal cell carcinoma.

Bulging eyes are often caused by hyperthyroidism, or overactivity of the thyroid gland.

Sudden double vision, dim vision or loss of vision are serious warning signs of a stroke.

Red spots in the eye can be a sign of diabetes. Blood sugar builds up, blocking and swelling blood vessels and causing tiny blood vessels in the retina to burst and bleed. Untreated, this can lead to impaired vision or blindness.

Everyone over the age of 40 should receive an annual eye exam in order to detect serious conditions as early as possible, even if vision is stable. If you think your eyes may be signaling a deeper health problem, make an appointment with a Goshen Health primary care provider today.