What Your Eyes Say About Your Health

Posted on: 29 April 2019

If you've been blessed with excellent vision and have never had to wear corrective lenses, you might be tempted to skip routine eye exams. While someone with good vision may not need to visit the eye doctor as often, your eyes are still an extremely important part of your anatomy and shouldn't be ignored. In fact, the eye doctor can often alert you to an underlying health condition you may not even be aware of. Here is a look at three medical issues that a routine eye exam may reveal.

Skin Cancer

When most people think of skin cancer, they think of a mole that changes and becomes cancerous. But did you know that you can get skin cancer in your eye? The most common type is called ocular melanoma, and unfortunately, like most melanomas, it can be deadly. About 50 percent of people who get ocular melanoma will have the cancer metastasize, or spread, typically to the liver. Ocular melanoma usually begins in the pigmented part of the eye, or the iris, but it can also occur in the thin watery layer that lubricates the eye or the white area around the pupil.

As with other melanomas, fair-skinned people are most at risk. The optometrist will typically see a dark spot in the eye, which is indicative of the tumor's presence. There are often no symptoms initially, which makes getting regular eye exams even more important.

Endocrine Disorders

Graves' Disease, which first lady Barbara Bush had and her husband, President George Bush, Sr. was eventually diagnosed with, and Addison's Disease, which President Kennedy had, are both endocrine diseases. These are just two of the endocrine diseases that affect the eyes. Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that makes the thyroid produce more thyroid hormone than is needed. This causes many symptoms, one of which is bulging eyes, but the eyes can also become dry, painful, and even blurry vision can result. Eye problems are often one of the first signs of thyroid issues, but the adrenal glands may be affected, too. Addison's Disease is caused when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones called cortisol. Blurry or double vision and a sensitivity to light often lead a patient to the eye doctor, where they may be diagnosed with macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that can lead to blindness.

Liver Disease

By looking at your eyes, an optometrist may be able to see signs of liver disease. The whites of the eyes may appear jaundiced, or yellow. Yellowed eyes aren't the only indication, however. Fatty, raised bumps on the eyelids as well as chronically dry eyes can also be early signs of liver disorders.

For more information, contact eye clinics like the Leader Heights Eye Center.