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Health Beat: Spotting health issues in your eyes

Published On: Apr 02 2013 10:56:39 AM EDT   Updated On: Apr 02 2013 05:53:03 PM EDT

They’re said to be the window to our soul, but they’re also the window to your health: your eyes.

They’re said to be the window to our soul, but they’re also the window to your health: your eyes.  A close look at our eyes could be all doctors need to get a glimpse at some serious problems.

"There's a lot of different things that the eyes can do that reflect general health," said Dr. Allen Ho, retina surgeon at Will's Eye Institute.

If your eyes have taken on a yellowish hue, you could be suffering from liver disease, like hepatitis or cirrhosis.


Yellowish deposits on your lids could mean high cholesterol. A thin gray ring around the cornea can also mean high cholesterol, putting you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

“The eyes are really an extension of the brain," explained Ho.

Even eyes that are too white can be a problem.

"Because the hemoglobin levels are too low.  Because you’ve got low iron and you’re anemic," said Dr. Julia A. Haller, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Institute.

Bulging eyes can run in the family, but they can also be a sign of a thyroid problem known as Graves' disease.  Three-million Americans have it. 

"Barbara Bush, for example, had problems with her eyes, thyroid disease," said Haller.

Have your eyelids suddenly started drooping? See your doctor right away.  It could be an autoimmune disorder or even a brain tumor.  

"We actually even diagnose diseases like AIDS sometimes.  We’re the ones that pick up that the patient has changes in the eye," Haller explained.

Getting a regular eye exam is important.  Even if you're not having vision problems, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye exams every two to four years if you're over 40.

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