Eyes: a window to your …. health

The remarkable beauty of human eyes is not just the sensory ability to make sense of light, but also in its expression of emotion.  But did you know that your eyes can also express the state of your health?

The retina, which is the back part of the eyeball, is a unique place to view your blood vessels, and even a part your brain, in a non-invasive approach. This is how a healthy, normal retina would look like:

Normal fundus 2a RE

The types of blood vessels to the eye range from major (large) to minor (finer) vessels. Minor vessels are particularly sensitive to pressure changes and blockages.  The appearance of the blood vessels of the retina can indicate if the blood vessels are under pressure (e.g. high blood pressure), are leaky (e.g. diabetes) or obstructed (e.g. embolism).  This is why it is of great value to view the retina, as the appearance of the blood vessels give an indication to the cardiovascular health of a person.

Hypertension (2)a
Crooked vessels in a person with high blood pressure (hypertension)

 

Diabetic retinopathy OD-2

Another amazing fact about the eyes, is that it is the only sensory organ that is directly connected to the brain! The tissues that form the optic nerve head are actually  brain tissues. The optic nerve is like a transmission cable that carries all the sensory information from the retina to the brain’s visual centre (located at the back of the head). Unlike other types of nerves, the optic nerve cannot be regenerated or mended if it is damaged or severed.

This is why vision loss from optic nerve disease or injury is permanent.  Examples of such diseases are glaucoma, stroke, multiple sclerosis etc.  Since there is no cure for these conditions, the best forms of protection are prevention and early detection, or to slow down the progressive damage.

glaucoma vision
Simulated vision loss in glaucoma: peripheral vision is initially lost, followed by dimmer vision. Image from www.mersi.com

 

 

 

 

 

Glaucoma 2

So what can you do for your eyes and general health?

Have your eyes checked by your optometrist. This is in addition to a general health screening by your medical doctor.

Prevention is better than cure. Especially when there is no cure. Check your eye health today. You might even save your life!

 

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