14 THINGS YOUR EYES ARE TRYING TO TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

Learn how poor eyesight and common vision problems can indicate serious health problems.

Looking straight into someone’s eyes may or may not reveal their sincerity, but if you know what to look for, their eyes can tell you about cholesterol, liver disease, and diabetes. “The eye is a unique window to health,” says ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and executive director of the San Francisco Glaucoma Center. “This is the only place where we can look inside and see the blood vessels, arteries and nerves (the optic nerve) without surgery.” Ocular clarity explains that regular eye exams can detect common eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration early. “Unfortunately, people get busy and put off not just eye exams, so ophthalmologists sometimes detect other problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure,” Ivach said. Especially for the vulnerable, he says: People love to be caregivers and worry about those around them, but neglect to take care of themselves. Pay attention to these 14 issues.

Disappearing Eyebrows What It Means: In some circles, shaved eyebrows are a fad (or fad, if you will). But when the third part of the eyebrow (the part close to the ear) begins to disappear by itself, this is a common symptom of thyroid disease – hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (inactivity of the thyroid gland). The thyroid is a small but important gland that helps regulate metabolism, and thyroid hormones are important for hair production. More: Eyebrows tend to thin out with age. But in thyroid disease, eyebrow hair loss is not evenly distributed; It is an optional break at the end. Hair loss is common in other parts of the body, but it is often seen here because the eyebrows are so prominent. Premature graying is a symptom of thyroid problems. Women are more affected than men, and hyperthyroidism is especially common in women in their 20s and 30s. What to do: Tell your dermatologist or regular doctor about these symptoms. Most of the other symptoms of hyper and hypothyroidism are broad and general in nature. Before seeing your doctor, note any other changes related to weight, energy level, bowel and menstrual regularity, mood, and skin changes.

What it means: In most cases, a small, raised, usually reddish bump along the inner or outer edge of the eyelid is just an unsightly but harmless eyelid bump (called a “chalazion”). However, if the spot does not go away within three months, or if it recurs in the same location, it may also be a rare cancer (sebaceous gland cancer). Additional Information: The sebaceous glands in the actual eyelash follicle are blocked. Quite common, they tend to disappear within a month. Cancer mimicking a cancerous cyst, on the other hand, does not go away. (Or it may appear to have gone away, but return to the same spot.) Another warning sign of eyelid cancer: Some of the eyelashes around the tag have fallen out. What to do: Refer persistent squint to an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specializes in the eye). A biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. Corns are usually removed surgically.

Raised yellow spots on eyelids What it means: Xanthelasma palpebra, the medical name for these small yellow patches, is often a warning sign of high cholesterol. They are also called “cholesterol bumps” – they are basically fat deposits. More clues: Sometimes people mistake these bumps for jaundice, but with xanthelasma, there tends to be more than one bump, and they’re quite small. What to do: See a doctor, skin and eye specialist. Diagnosis can usually be made visually. An ophthalmologist can examine the eye and see the deposits; For this reason, high cholesterol is sometimes diagnosed with a routine eye exam. The problem is usually not serious and does not cause pain or vision problems. Your doctor will evaluate you for other symptoms of coronary artery disease.

Burning eyes and blurred vision when using a computer What it means: You may be a workaholic and you definitely have “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). Eye strain is partly due to the lack of contrast on a computer screen (compared to ink on paper) and the extra work required to focus on light pixels. In addition, in middle age, the eyes lose their ability to produce lubricating tears. Shock can occur, resulting in confusion and increased discomfort. More ideas: Does the problem get worse in the afternoon (when the eyes tend to get dry)? Is it worse (more eye strain) when reading fine print books? People who wear glasses and contacts, more ideas at CVS

computer hood, or checking out antireflective coating for your glasses (if you wear them). Simply tinkering with the contrast of your screen can help, too. White areas should neither glow brightly like a light source nor appear gray. Flat-panel LCD display screens (like those on laptops) cause less eyestrain than older models. Keep reference material close to the same height as your monitor, giving your eyes a break from having to refocus so much.

Increasing gunk in the eye What it means: Blepharitis—inflammation of the eyelids, especially at the edges—can have several causes. Two of them, surprisingly, are conditions better associated with other body parts: scalp dandruff and acne rosacea (which causes flushed red skin, usually in the faces of fair-skinned women at midlife). More clues: The eyes may also feel irritated, as if specks have gotten in them. They may burn, tear or feel dry. The crusty debris tends to gather in the lashes or the inner corners of the eyes or even on the lids. What to do: With clean hands, apply a warm, damp washcloth to the eyes for about five minutes at a time to loosen debris and soothe the skin. See a doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics, as well as artificial tears.

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