The eyes say a lot about a person. They can tell you how a person is feeling whether they are frustrated, bored, or anxious. Not only can the eyes give away a person’s thoughts and feelings, they can also give away clues about a person’s overall health. If someone is squinting and blinking a lot, they could be dealing with nearsightedness and/or dry eye. If their eyes are red, they could be dealing with a lack of sleep or it could tell you that they suffer from allergies. To eye doctors, the eyes are a window into how healthy the rest of the body is. Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure are often first diagnosed at an eye exam.1 Find out how your overall health can affect your eyes and vision.
How Your Overall Health Affects your Eye Health
Many times, people don’t realize what a strong link there is between their overall health and the health of their eyes. Sure, eating carrots may be good for both your body and your eyes, but the connections go far beyond that. For example, not only are carrots good for you, but eating dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, and healthy foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (like certain types of fish) will not only help your body by providing it with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, but making those kinds of smart choices when you eat can help your eye health as well.2
Some decisions aren’t as good for your eyes. For example, if you choose to smoke, you could be directly affecting your eyes as well as causing harm to your lungs and other parts in your body. When you smoke you are putting yourself at a higher risk for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, optic nerve problems, and other eye-related illnesses, some of which could ultimately lead to blindness.3
Even your weight could potentially have an impact on your eye health as being overweight or obese can put you at higher risk for diabetes and high blood pressure which can cause temporary or permanent vision loss.4 Auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome or multiple sclerosis can also affect your eye health and vision due to the amount of inflammation throughout your body. Eye doctors are trained to look for symptoms of such diseases, leading to early diagnosis and treatment.
What Issues Should You See an Eye Doctor For?
While you may visit your regular doctor when feeling sick, it’s important that you also visit your eye doctor to ensure that any illnesses or diseases you may develop do not adversely affect the health of your eyes. It’s also important to visit the eye doctor anytime you experience eye-related symptoms.
You may already know that if you notice your vision is getting worse and blurrier, that you should visit your eye doctor right away. Blurry vision caused by progressive nearsightedness can result in more serious issues later in life including macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal detachment, and others, but when you visit your eye doctor these conditions can be prevented as best as possible and/or caught early so that they can be more easily treated and the progression can be slowed.5 Your eye doctor can also help you treat blurry vision with the aid of corrective lenses such as glasses or daytime contacts, or through surgery. There is also the option of non-surgical treatments, like corneal refractive therapy, available so that you can see more clearly during the day without requiring glasses or daytime contacts.
Other eye problems that you should see your eye doctor for include discharge, flashes of light, light sensitivity, pain, and vision loss since such symptoms can indicate a more serious problem or disease. Even if you’re experiencing less serious symptoms such as dry eye, red eye, eye strain, or what you know is pink-eye, or even a sty, visiting your eye doctor can help you get the proper treatment including medication, if necessary, or recommendations on how to reduce discomfort and prevent the issue from recurring in the future.
The Importance of Regular Visits to the Eye Doctor
If you have any type of medical condition that can affect your eye health, even if it’s not directly related to the eyes, it’s important that you visit your eye doctor regularly. With regular visits, your eye doctor can better detect eye problems early on and treat them as soon as possible. Even if your eyes and body are in good health, regular checkups are important to ensure that you enjoy the best vision and eye health possible and can stay on top of any issues that may arise in the future.
If you haven’t been to the eye doctor for a while, find one near you and make an appointment today.
 (2017, May 1). Diabetic Eye Disease. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-eye-disease#affect U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
 Boyd, K. (2019, May 03). Smoking and Eye Disease (K. D. DeAngelis MD, Ed.). https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/smokers
 Dietary Fat and Risk for Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration,Johanna M. Seddon; Bernard Rosner; Robert D. Sperduto; Lawrence Yannuzzi; Julia A. Haller; Norman P. Blair; Walter Willett, Arch Ophthalmol. August 2001;119:1191-1199.
 Cheung, N., MBBS, & Wong, T. Y., PhD. (2007). Obesity and Eye Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2698026/
 Xu L, Wang Y, Wang S, Wang Y & Jonas JB, ‘High Myopia and Glaucoma Susceptibility: The Beijing Eye Study’ Ophthalmology, Volume 114, Issue 2, February 2007.