Your eyes are the windows to your soul. Could this popular proverb have a root in truth? Can our eyes really hint at what is going on within us? While that saying is mainly referring to feelings and intentions, research has proven that the eyes can predict illnesses and diseases, as well as psychological disorders. In fact, your eyes can reveal the secrets about your health, your diet, your habits, and your nutritional deficiencies.
Did you know that your eyes can warn you of many illnesses? This is why getting regular check-ups is an important preventative health measure. Don’t put it off—make time for your eyes today. Here are 10 things your eyes can tell you about your health:
- High Cholesterol
- This disease changes the color of the cornea or can create a yellowish ring around it.
- There may be plaque on the blood vessels of the retina, which also shows elevated cholesterol levels.
- This disease affects the small capillaries in the retina in the eyes.
- The blood vessels can leak blood or a yellowish fluid. This condition is called “diabetic retinopathy.”
- If the structure of your eye is unusual, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Pigmentation in the eye can be caused by the development of ocular melanoma.
- The eyelid can show basal cell carcinomas that can spread to the brain through the eye.
- Bends, kinks, or tears can show in the eye’s blood vessels, indicating high blood pressure.
- Thyroid Disease
- Graves Disease is the result of thyroid disease in the eyes. This causes bulging eyes or protruding eyeballs.
- Immune disorders
- Autoimmune disorders like Lupus can be detected from inflammations in the eye.
- Your eyes can also indicate HIV/AIDS, which can cause potentially blinding inflammation of the retina.
- Droopy eyelids or irregularly shaped pupils can indicate a neck tumor or an aneurism.
- Different size pupils and droopy eyelids can be a sign of Horner’s Syndrome.
- Cloudiness or loss of sight
- Cataract, a clouding of the lens inside the eye, can be caused by a variety of diseases and disorders, as well as side effects from certain medications.
- Marfan’s Syndrome
- This is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue in the body.
- It can be detected by changes in the string-like tissue that holds the eye’s crystalline lens in place.
- It may cause, and is commonly associated with, weakness of the aorta wall. If the aorta is damaged or ruptured, it can be fatal.
- Is a Greek word meaning “blue waterfalls,” and people sometimes call it the blue water. Glaucoma happens when the fluid in the eye cannot drain properly. This increases the pressure on the optic nerve. Early symptoms are mild or non-existent, so it’s important to get regularly checked. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
Top Tips for Healthy Eyes
- Eat well. Vitamins C and E, as well as Omega 3 and zinc can help protect your eyes from age related issues like cataracts. Include plenty of leafy green vegetables (spinach, collard greens, kale), oily fish, citrus fruits, nuts and beans in your diet.
- Wear sunglasses. Too much exposure to UV rays can damage your eyes and cause macular degeneration. Choose sunglasses that block 99-100% UVA and UVB rays.
- Stop smoking. This habit can harm your optic nerve and increase your risk of getting cataracts.
Take breaks from screen work. Staring at a laptop or phone screen too long can cause eyestrain, blurry vision and dry eyes. Rest your eyes every 15 minutes—look around the room for a moment. Take a 20-minute break every two hours—step away from that screen and do something else.
We spoke with Dr. Abdulaziz Al Kaabi, Resident Optometrist at Hamad Medical Corporation, to find out more about the eye-care offered by HMC, and what the eyes can reveal to us about certain disorders.
- What eye-related problems are most often reported at HMC?
- What sort of treatments do you offer?
- What are the most prevalent causes of eye diseases?
- How many patients do you see on average?
- How does diabetes affect eye health?
- Have you launched any eye care campaigns?
- Can you tell us more about the specialized eye-care clinic?
- Have any new technologies or treatments been introduced at HMC?
Around 70,000 patients come in annually and about a third of those have diabetes, and diabetes-related eye issues. However, most of the cases we see at the clinics are from irritations, allergies, eye infections or injuries to the retina or the cornea.
The eye care department in HMC is comprised of 20 clinics, open 5 days a week. Diabetes-related eye diseases are usually treated in the specialized retina clinics or the regular check-up section. There are also specialized doctors for all other eye-related issues. We offer corrective surgery and Lasik for patients who require it. We also always have an emergency eye specialist on-call 24/7.
Glaucoma is one of the most prevalent eye diseases and about 90% of cases get diagnosed very late. We had about 1,500 cases related to diabetes in 2016 alone. 1200 patients came in to remove “white water” and 300 other patients received retinal surgery. There are many more diseases, and almost all of them require precision treatment using microscopic technology.
Eye disease can be easily prevented with safety glasses or simply listening to your doctor when he or she says that you need a specific treatment or glasses. Regular check-ups also help to prevent eye diseases that can affect the retina, damage to which can be irreversible.
The emergency room at Hamad General Hospital takes in about 35 cases a day. Most of these cases are from foreign substances coming into the eye or surface wounds to the cornea. We aim to move the eye clinics from Hamad General Hospital and Rumaila Hospital to the Hamad Medical City’s Daily Care Building by the start of the new year. This will allow more patients to come in and for more facilities and treatments to be introduced, like corrective treatments and Lasik eye surgery. HMC has specialized clinics for everything eye-related from basic eye checks and corrective treatment with glasses, to laser treatments and corrective surgeries.
Glaucoma or irregular eye pressure is what mostly affects diabetics. About 90% of those who have glaucoma don’t realize it until their condition advances and affects their nerves, which then creates a permanent shadow over their vision. This can be hereditary and easily avoided through regular check-ups.
17% of the population in Qatar are diabetic, and all of them are susceptible to eye diseases due to possible damage in their retina blood vessels from increased blood sugar levels.
The campaign we are mostly focused on now is in collaboration with the National Association Fighting Blindness, where schools and children receive eye check-ups. HMC has also collaborated with Primary Health Care to provide schools with quick ways to test students, as some disabilities in the eyes can lead to blindness very quickly, and they need to be treated as soon as possible. The campaigns highlight the importance of taking care of your eyes and how corrective treatments like wearing prescription glasses can help greatly to stop the damage from progressing. The aim is also to educate that not everyone is the same, some may only require prescription glasses, while others may require medication or even surgery.
There are 4 clinics specialized in measuring sight for glasses and laser treatment. About 3,500 corrective surgeries have been conducted in 2016. We also have specialized retina dysfunction treatments and surgeries, and cornea transplants available (this transplant is not limited to patients of the same blood type).
When we move to the new buildings, we will have new treatments on offer for corrective and disabilities treatments for the eyes. We will also have everything we can possibly need to provide the patients with the best services for specific diseases and everything required to prepare for any treatment or operation on the eyes.
At HMC, we are also diligently checking patients’ needs to avoid any complications and side effects. New technologies are being introduced for this and to help specialists with diagnosis.