While we’re all aware of how important it is to protect our eyes from the sun, it can be easy to forget that eyes need to be healthy too. If our vision is good, we will often assume that there’s no reason to get our eyes checked at all. However, while they may be the windows to the soul, eyes can also be the window into the health of our body, far beyond vision. Eye health can in fact inform ophthalmologists about everything from diabetes to blood pressure.
The Eyes Have It
According to a recent report, a third of all genetic syndromes can have a negative affect on your eye health. Though often forgotten, and thought of as their own entity related singularly to sight, the eyes are very much a part of the body and can fall victim to ill-health and genetic illnesses just like any other organ.
It is the systemic disorders, i.e. the disorders that affect the entire body that the eyes are particularly good at revealing. According to Dr Neal Adams, a simple eye health exam can detect nutritional deficits, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage and diabetes amongst many others.
How It Works
There are a few parts of the eye that offer clues to general health. One is the blood vessels. If they are abnormally shaped or coloured it can be an indication of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Using specialised equipment ophthalmologists are able to see individual red blood cells flowing through capillaries (blood vessels) in the eye.
The colour of the eye whites can reveal a great number of ailments, from pancreatitis and gallstones to alcohol hepatitis, as well as some less serious issues, such as dryness and computer vision syndrome.
Your eye health can even reveal stress: the eye may leak fluid, much like having a blister in the retina. A symptom such as this would indicate a high chance of inflammation in other parts of the body.
Getting It Checked
Whether or not you are concerned about your eye health, it is important to make regular appointments with your local optician. As well as testing your vision and recommending ways to better look after your eyes, they will also be able to pick up on any signs your eyes may be showing of ill-health in other parts of the body.
To find contact details for your local optician, you can use the NHS Choices website. Enter ‘opticians’ in the first box, and the first three letters of your postcode in the other. You will then receive a list of opticians near you, as well as opening times. Oftentimes there will be more than one to choose from: it is important to choose one you will be able to reach easily. All are trustworthy services with fully trained opticians.
If you are based in Berkshire, the EBPC operates two out of hours services for emergencies. In the Prince Charles Eye Unit at the King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor there is treatment available for urgent or emergency cases. The operating hours are 9am- 5pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays 9am- 1pm. If you need urgent eye care and are unable to get an appointment with your optician you can book an appointment with the unit by calling 01753 860441.
The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading also has an eye clinic for eye accidents and emergencies that have occurred in the last 48 hours. Call 0118 322 8855 to book an appointment with the clinic.
Eye Health is Vital
Your eyes are your window into the world, and it is always important to take good care of them. Protecting them from the sun and eating a balanced diet as well as regularly getting them checked is a sure way to maintain and boost your eye health, as well as finding out any general health warning signs they may be revealing.
Sometimes accidents do happen, and if there has been a serious injury to your eyes, you should always go straight to A&E. If your problem is urgent, but slightly less serious, get in touch with one of our eye clinics, or book an appointment with your local optician.
EBPC offer out of hours optician services for Berkshire, and if you are in need of urgent or emergency eye care, you should call 01753 860441 to be directed to the right eye service for your needs.