What are your eyes telling you about your health?

What are your eyes telling you about your health?

The eyes are often referred to as the windows to the soul, and while they are important for communicating with the world around us, they are also a barometer for our inner health. Eye health is usually associated with vision impairment and prescription lenses but the eyes can also be affected by other unfavourable conditions in the body. The eyes are often the first site in the body to present signs of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even cancer.
An annual check up with the optometrist is just as important as your bi-annual trip to the dentist. The eyes change constantly as we age so people who have prescription lenses can experience symptoms such as migraines and dizziness when they unexpectedly outgrow their lens strength - a simple eye test can prevent unnecessary trips to the doctor.

Conditions that can be easily identified during an eye test:


The blood vessels in the eyes are delicate and often the first to be affected by diabetes. Optometrists are trained to detect diabetic related changes in the eyes. A quality of vision that changes from day to day is the most common symptom of Diabetes.


Often symptoms of glaucoma only appear after a reasonably unnoticeable loss of vision. They are caused by increased pressure in the eyes due to a blockage of the passages that drain the eyes of excess fluids. Optometrists carry out a simple, painless tonometry test during which eye drops are applied to the eye in order to measure the pressure in the eye and determine whether or not there is a risk of glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, but can be prevented if caught early enough.

Spots or floater

Cloudy particles or string like webs may appear in the eye and move around with movement of the eye. Spots are fairly normal and rarely cause blindness but they can also be a sign of more serious conditions. If you have floaters and experience flashes of light in your peripheral vision, see a curtain moving across your vision or experience loss of peripheral vision, it is imperative that you go for an eye test as these fluctuations can be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment, or eye melanomas (cancer).

Impaired vision in children

Impaired vision could be present in children long before parents become aware of the impairment. An eye test is the only way to detect poor vision in children because younger children don’t understand that the irritated feeling they have in their eyes could mean that they are experiencing impaired vision. Children can’t always communicate the exact condition they are experiencing, especially if they are under 3 years of age.  When left undetected situations are often misinterpreted as learning deficiencies that could be easily corrected if identified accurately. A child who complains of not being able to see the chalk board properly or who experiences headaches could be at risk of vision impairment.

Nearsightedness in children, medically known as myopia, can develop into cataracts, glaucoma or retinal detachment later in life, if left untreated. Myopia has become more common in young children in the past few years, which researchers are linking to too much screen time in early childhood.

Eye tests are important at every stage of life; for those who are too young to communicate that they are seeing black spots or for elders who experience symptoms of age-related eye diseases. Schedule in an eye test along with your annual dental, gynae and prostate exams - your eyes are as important and constitute one of the only five senses you have.

Date Published: 
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