The eyes are more than just the windows to your soul; they are also windows to your health. Symptoms of many serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and liver issues are first seen in the eyes. Most professionals recommend getting your eyes checked once a year, but take a close look at the signs below to see when you may need to see your eye doctor sooner.
1. Inflammation: Inflammation of the eyes could be a sign of an autoimmune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation may occur in one or both eyes and is common in people of all ages. Symptoms of inflammation include:
- Blurred vision
- Feeling of heat/warmth behind the eyes
Why you need to see your doctor: Treatment for eye inflammation depends on the underlying cause.
2. Leaky blood vessels: Weak blood vessels in the eye are a telltale of diabetes. Elevated blood sugar (blood glucose) levels can clog and damage retinal blood vessels. Diabetics are at high risk for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataract.
Why you need to see your doctor: Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults.
3. Mole inside the eye: The skin isn’t the only thing that needs protection from the sun. Sunlight can also increase the risk of developing cancer inside the eyeball. This type of melanoma can look like a mole or small raised surface on the retina.
Why you need to see your doctor: An eye melanoma can quickly spread to surrounding tissue, so getting an early diagnosis is critical.
4. Blisters: Excessive emotional or mental stress can cause blisters inside the eyeballs, a condition called central serous retinopathy (CSR). The body becomes so stressed out that the retina leaks a blister-forming fluid. Blurry vision or seeing wavy lines when trying to focus are common symptoms.
Why you need to see your doctor: CSR typically clears up on it’s on within months, but more serious cases require professional treatment.
5. Red blotches: Persistent red blotches on the whites of the eyes can be a sign of high blood pressure (hypertension). High pressure causes the blood vessels to expand or sometimes burst, leaving the red marks. A copper or silver hue to the retinal arteries are another sign of high blood pressure.
Why you need to see your doctor: More than 20 percent of people with high blood pressure aren’t aware that they have it, and getting the eyes checked is often the first time it’s discovered. If HBP is left untreated, blood vessels in the retina and throughout the body may harden, increasing the risk for stroke or a heart attack.
If you notice any changes in your vision or how your eyes look, see your eye doctor immediately.