What Your Eyes Tell About You

eyes and health

Medical researchers have discovered that our eyes may communicate the existence of health problems, sometimes even before physical symptoms appear.

What health concerns could your eyes be communicating to others? Review the following list of 14 physical characteristics that may reveal a health issue:

  1. Droopy eyelids, difficulty closing one eye, no control of tears – These symptoms often appear suddenly and may be an indication of Bell’s palsy, an impairment of the nerve that controls the facial muscles; usually occurs as a temporary paralysis in only half of the face following a viral infection, including shingles, mono, HIV or a bacterial infection, such as Lyme disease; symptoms typically recede within a few weeks; physical therapy assistance may be helpful to regain facial muscle control
  2. Dry, sensitive eyes – A possible indication of an immune system disorder known as Sjogren’s syndrome; affects the glands in the eyes causing dryness and sensitivity, especially in women over age 40 who have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus; may also impact the glands in the mouth by diminishing the saliva, which can create difficulties in chewing or swallowing; treatment options include lubricating eye drops and increased water consumption
  3. Double, dim or loss of vision – An early visual sign of stroke that comes on suddenly; symptoms may include sudden numbness or weakness in the arm, leg or face on one side of the body, loss of balance and coordination, slurred speech or painful headache; if experiencing any of these signs, immediately seek medical assistance
  4. Small hemorrhages in the eye – Individuals diagnosed with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which affects the eye’s circulatory system and may cause small, visible hemorrhages, glaucoma or cataracts; diabetics often see floaters or tiny dark spots, but do not experience any pain; schedule eye exams annually to monitor vision changes
  5. Gunk in the eye – Crusty debris in the lashes, corner of the eyes or on the eyelid may be a sign of dandruff or acne rosacea, which may cause skin inflammation; to loosen the debris, apply a warm, damp washcloth over closed eyes for several minutes or use artificial tears; if problem persists, contact your eye doctor for an antibiotic to heal the skin
  6. Shimmering lights, wavy lines or blind spots – Often a sign of an ocular migraine, which is usually painless and does not damage the eyes; if the problem returns frequently, schedule an eye exam for a vision evaluation
  7. Red, itchy eyes – Allergies frequently cause irritated eyes; treatment options may include over-the-counter antihistamines to treat the itchiness and eye drops to relieve inflamed tissues; if the problem persists, check with an eye doctor for other remedies
  8. Yellow eyes – A yellow color in the area of the eye that is normally white may signal a problem with the liver, gallbladder or bile ducts, hepatitis or cirrhosis; develops when old red blood cells build up and cannot be processed by the liver; condition should be evaluated and treated by a medical doctor
  9. Eyelid bump or brown spot – Usually the sign of a malignant eyelid tumor known as basal cell carcinoma; fair-skinned or elderly individuals are at highest risk of developing eyelid spots; contact a dermatologist, eye doctor or physician to have the spot evaluated; early detection is vital to preventing the cancer from spreading to the lymph nodes
  10. Bulging eyes – Individuals with an overactive thyroid gland may develop protruding or bulging eyes; the condition is sometimes associated with Graves’ disease, with symptoms that include blurred vision, restlessness, fatigue, increased appetite, weight loss, tremors or palpitations; usually medications and surgery correct the problem
  11. Disappearing eyebrow – If you have ever noticed that the outer third of someone’s eyebrow is missing, this may be a sign of thyroid disease; other signs may include early graying and a loss of hair on other parts of the body; schedule an appointment with your physician for a complete evaluation and treatment
  12. Reddish bump on the outer or inner eyelid – The bump may be a sty, known as a clogged eyelash follicle; the problem may disappear independently, but if it continually recurs in the same spot, it may be a sign of a rare cancer called sebaceous gland carcinoma; schedule an appointment with your physician or ophthalmologist to have the sty evaluated
  13. Bumpy, yellow patches on the eyelid – Fatty deposits of several bumps together are considered a sign of high cholesterol; seek medical attention for an evaluation of cholesterol levels and risk for coronary artery disease
  14. Burning eyes – If you experience dry, irritated eyes or blurry vision after using the computer for an extended time, you may have computer vision syndrome; solutions include taking frequent breaks while working at the computer, periodically looking up at a distance and bringing your vision back to the screen and reducing glare on the computer screen or wearing glasses with an antireflective coating

Sometimes people think that it isn’t necessary to schedule a regular eye exam unless they detect an eye problem. But many eye and vision concerns do not exhibit obvious signs or symptoms. Schedule your annual eye appointment today.