When optimally functioning, the eyes and vision are a true gift. It is important to seek medical attention from an eye specialist or ophthalmologist for routine, comprehensive eye exams and immediately for any vision changes.
Glaucoma - This disease represents an increase in intraocular fluid pressure, which presses on the optic nerve and can cause vision loss. Glaucoma is twice as common in diabetics as non-diabetics.
Diabetic Retinopathy - The most common diabetic eye disease, this causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina and can lead to vision loss.
Cataracts - When the lens in the eye becomes cloudy, vision is impaired. This health issue, which is called cataracts, can be a result of diabetes as well as aging, or the side effect of medications like long-term use of corticosteroids.
Droopy Eyelids or Ptosis - This condition can be a simple sign of aging or indicate something more serious like a brain tumor or myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes full body weakness.
Bulging Eyes - High levels of thyroid hormones cause swelling around the eyes and a bulging appearance. This can indicate thyroid disease.
Pupil Abnormalities - Pupils should be the same size and demonstrate an equal reaction to light. If there is a difference in the pupils, it can indicate many different medical conditions such as a brain tumor, optic nerve tumor, stroke, brain aneurysm, syphilis or multiple sclerosis. Use of some medications like narcotics and illicit drugs can also change the pupil size.
Yellow Eyes - The liver breaks down hemoglobin, a part of the red blood cell, and one resulting component is bilirubin. Symptoms of liver disease can be seen through the eyes if there is yellowing of the sclera (whites of the eyes), which is caused by a build-up of bilirubin. Hepatitis and cirrhosis are a possible diagnosis.
Optic Nerve Abnormalities - The function of the optic nerve is to send visual data from the retina to the brain. Located at the back of the eye, the optic nerve should be pink. A pale colored optic nerve can indicate early multiple sclerosis, a brain tumor or brain aneurysm.
Atherosclerosis - A build-up of cholesterol in the carotid or coronary arteries is a serious condition. Before there are symptoms, tiny bits of the plaque sometimes break off and travel to the back of the eye or retina. Evidence of tiny plaque on the retina is a clue to severe atherosclerosis, which needs further investigation.
The eyes display many medical conditions other than those related directly to vision. It is critical to have comprehensive eye examinations for general good health and early detection of underlying diseases.
To get more tips on caring for your eyes or to join a discussion, visit our Vision and Eye Disorders forum.