It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but your eyes may be telling you more than you realize! When something is off with your body your eyes have a unique way of sending you warning signs, alerting you to a variety of conditions.
Andrew Iwach, ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains, “The eye is a unique window into health. It’s the only place in the body where, without surgery, we can look in and see veins, arteries and a nerve (the optic nerve).”
Despite how valuable these warning signs can be in your overall health they often go unnoticed due to a lack of proper attention to our eye health and our vision. “Unfortunately, people get busy and delay not only eye exams but regular physicals. That’s why eye doctors sometimes discover other issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure,” Iwach states.
Don’t miss these 10 important warning signs:
- Appearance of a Blind Spot with Shimmering Lights or a Wavy Line
If you find that your vision begins to distort with the appearance of a blind spot accompanied by either the appearance of a number of bright dots creating the appearance of shimmering lights or a line that moves across your vision disrupting your ability to see, then you may be experiencing an ocular migraine. You may or may not find that these experiences are accompanied by a headache. While experts are continuing to study this condition to learn more they do believe that a chance in blood flow to the brain may be the cause. The condition should pass, however, if it persists, or if it is accompanied by other signs associated with a stroke or seizure, then you should contact your healthcare provider.
- Blurred Vision
There are several potential causes of blurred vision, which may be something as simple as strained eyes or it could indicate something far more serious. If you spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer screen during your daily routine, then there is a chance that you are experiencing computer vision syndrome. This condition occurs when your eyes become strained from the additional work of focusing on the pixels on your screen. If you are a diabetic this is an even bigger concern as it may indicate diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition that impacts the part of the circulatory that impacts the eye and leads to blindness in a large number of American adults.
- Appearance of a Bump or Brown Spot on the Eyelid
Similar to the appearance of a brown spot on the skin in any other area of the body, a bump or brown spot on your eyelid may indicate the appearance of skin cancer. The majority of malignant eyelid tumors are basal cell carcinoma, whereas a brown spot is more likely to be malignant melanoma. Anytime that you discover suspicious spots or sores, regardless of where they present themselves on your body, it is important to have them checked out by a medical professional.
- A Bulging Sensation in the Eyes
If you feel as though your eyes are protruding or bulging in their sockets this may indicate that you are experiencing hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid gland). To determine if your eyes are bulging, look in a mirror at the space between the top of the iris and the upper eyelid to see if there is any visible white in this space as there should not be. This condition develops slowly so you may not notice it at first. It is important to note that some family lines are prone to this condition, so if you find that it runs in the family then it is likely not hyperthyroidism.
- Dry Eyes That Are Sensitive to Light
Particularly common among women over the age of 40 with autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, this is a sign of an immune system disorder called Sjogren’s Syndrome. This condition causes the glands in the eyes and mouth that are responsible for keeping the eyes moist to fail to function properly. This is often coupled with feeling a dry mouth, which may make it difficult to chew and swallow.
- A Persistent or Recurring Sty
A sty is a small, raised bump along the inner or outer eyelid area. While annoying and unsightly they aren’t usually a huge concern; however, if you have a sty appear on or around your eye that refuses to go away, particularly if you find that it hasn’t cleared up after a period of 3 months, or if you find you are repeatedly experiencing a sty in the same location on the eye, it is important that you make an appointment to see your healthcare provider! This could be a sign of a rare cancer known as sebaceous gland carcinoma.
- Sudden experience of Double Vision, Dimming vision or Loss of Vision
If you find that you are suddenly experiencing these signs it is important that you seek immediate medical help as they are all warning signs of a stroke! Other signs to watch for include feelings of numbness or weakness in your arms, leg or face, particularly along one side of the body, difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, a bad headache or slurred speech.
- Loss of Eyebrow Hair
While shaved eyebrows have become a growing trend, if you find that your eyebrow hair is beginning to disappear on its own this could signal health concerns. Your eyebrows will thin naturally with age, however, if you find that you are losing more hair on the outer third of your eyebrow this may signal thyroid disease. This could either mean that you are currently experiencing hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland).
- Yellowed Eyes
If the white portion of the eyes turns a yellowish color this is a condition known as jaundice. Common in newborns whose liver function has not fully developed, when this occurs in adults it is a sign of problems with the liver, bile ducts or gallbladder. Some conditions that may be responsible include hepatitis and cirrhosis. Other tissues in the body will also turn yellowish in these cases, however, it is not as easy to spot as the eyes. These causes can be extremely serious and those experiencing a yellowing of their eyes should seek medical attention immediately.
- The Appearance of Bumpy Yellowish Patches on the Eyelid
If you find that you are experiencing small yellow bumps across the eyelid this is a warning sign that you are experiencing high cholesterol. Referred to as ‘cholesterol bumps,’ the medical name for this condition is Xanthelasma Palpebra. Often mistaken for a sty, these fatty deposits present as multiple small bumps rather than the single bump that a sty will create. While problem usually isn’t serious it should be examined by a medical professional.