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10 health concerns you can detect through your eyes

Posted November 6

When you meet someone new, the first thing you notice about them is probably their eyes—the shape, the color and sometimes their health....Curious? Eyes are more than just for show; doctors can diagnose a number of diseases or conditions just through an eye exam. The state of your eyes can give you major clues to what is happening to your body. These literal windows to your inner health can reveal 10 dangerous conditions:

1. Cancer

There are a number of eye conditions that can indicate cancer somewhere in the body, or even in the eye. Lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women often spread to the eyes before a diagnosis is even made. Many doctors also first discover basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) hiding under the eyelids or within brown spots that appear in the eye.

2. Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases like lupus, Chrohn’s disease or even some forms of arthritis can be diagnosed through the eye. If you are experiencing constant irritation and inflammation in your eyes (and yet you do not drink alcohol and you get a fair amount of sleep every night), the redness in your eyes can be a sign of inflammation happening elsewhere in your body, which is a common symptom of lupus.

Other symptoms such as eyelid droop or dry eyes can be symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that destroys moisture glands in the body. Also, drooping eyelids indicate gradual muscle weakness that can stem from multiple autoimmune disorders.

3. High blood pressure

Signs of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems can be found in the eyes. According to Web MD, if the blood vessels in the whites of your eyes begin to twist, narrow or balloon, high blood pressure is most likely the cause. High blood pressure is especially dangerous as it puts people at high risk of having a devastating stroke.

4. Brain injury

Horner’s syndrome is a complication that often follows a head trauma, a stroke or an aneurysm that causes the pupils to become different sizes. Uneven pupils can also be an indicator of a tumor or growth in the neck area. Web MD has a list of circumstances that can cause this symptom. Regardless, if your pupils are uneven, this condition is a sign that something serious is happening to your body and should be checked out by a doctor immediately.

5. Liver problems

Jaundice is a condition that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to gain a yellow pigment. Jaundice is caused by too much bilirubin (a waste substance produced by the liver) flowing through the blood. Hepatitis (the inflammation of the liver) or other liver problems may cause jaundice when the liver is struggling to remove adequate amounts of bilirubin from the body.

6. Thyroid issues

Graves disease is a disorder of the thyroid that can cause the eyes to bulge and appear larger. This condition is triggered when the thyroid begins attacking the tissues in the eye socket. Protruding eyes are the most common sign of a thyroid problem.

7. Diabetes

Diabetes does more than just affect your blood sugar, it can severely impact the small capillaries in the eyes. High blood sugar (the primary symptom in diabetics) can cause these blood vessels to weaken in the retina, which then causes excess protein to flow into the macula, (the part of the eye that is responsible for focusing vision). If blood sugar is not monitored and properly managed over the years, this condition can cause severe vision loss.

8. High cholesterol

Another cardiovascular condition that can be diagnosed through a quick eye exam is high cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can cause a gray ring to form around the cornea in the eye. High cholesterol can also cause small, yellow fat deposits to appear as bumps on the eyelids.

9. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis often causes inflammation of the optic nerve, which causes excessive blurred vision or sometimes no symptoms at all. Over 75 percent of multiple sclerosis patients exhibit this symptom; often times it is the first symptom of the disease that comes to light.

10. Anemia

If the inside of your lower eyelids are white or pale, it could indicate that your blood is lacking iron. Iron deficiency anemia is a common blood disorder that can usually be taken care of with oral supplements, but it can also be a sign of bleeding somewhere within the body.

Whatever the state of your eyes may be, never take them for granted. They are far more than what they seem and could potentially save you a lot of time when you and your doctor are trying to determine a diagnosis for your symptoms.

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