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Can Heart Diseases Affect Vision?

The eyes do more than just see and show emotions. Eyes can also show if something is wrong with your body. The eyes are magnificent features that can reveal a lot about your health. Changes or complications in vision could mean something is wrong with your health.

Cardiovascular diseases and conditions can manifest in the eyes before your doctor gives you a diagnosis. Some eye exams can accurately show signs of cardiovascular irregularities before a general doctor can detect them. This is another reason of many why you should never skip eye exams.

So do cardiovascular conditions affect the eyes? Yes, they do, in multiple ways, as the information below will cover. It will also highlight how doctors can identify signs of cardiovascular disease with a simple eye exam. Moreover, it will identify some of the signs of cardiovascular disease in the eyes. So don’t pause; keep reading to learn more.

How Eye Exams Can Detect Heart Disease

Studies show that eye doctors are often the first to detect underlying health conditions that have nothing to do with the eyes. Why? Because the eyes show live action of blood cells, connecting tissues and nerves without the need for invasive procedures. A simple eye exam shows all this and more.

Ophthalmologists can detect heart disease through small lesions in the retina. The small lesions in the eye are present in healthy people but a lot more in people with heart diseases.

Ischemia is a condition characterized by blood supply restriction to the tissues, organs, or muscle group, causing a shortage of oxygen. It often occurs due to cardiovascular disease. This condition causes insufficient blood flow to the eye, which in turn causes the retina cells to die. This creates permanent scars known as retinal ischemic perivascular lesions or RIPLs.

Studies show that people with heart disease have more RIPLs than healthy people. Therefore, the higher the number of lesions on the retina, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Signs of Cardiovascular Disease in the Eyes

Since only an eye doctor can confirm these lesions in your eyes, you will need a thorough eye exam. But before then, you might be experiencing some of the symptoms of cardiovascular disease in the eyes. The lack of oxygen to the eyes will trigger symptoms in your eyes such as:

  • Blood vessels change. High blood pressure can damage retinal blood vessels. They will narrow or swell significantly, coupled with swelling at the base of the optic nerve. You might not be able to see it, but a doctor can confirm it through an eye exam.
  • Cholesterol deposits in the eyes. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. High cholesterol levels can manifest in the eyes through deposits. The cholesterol deposits are yellowish lumps, and they appear on the lower or upper eyelids, plus the corner of the eyes.
  • Temporary vision loss. Temporary or transient vision loss occurs due to sudden and brief blood vessel constriction. It could be a sign of cardiovascular disease since blood flow to the brain stops briefly and affects the eyes.
  • Redness. You may notice visible redness because of changes in the blood vessels. Of course, this could be a symptom of something else, so you should go for an eye examination.
  • Watering. Watering can also occur due to cholesterol deposits and changes in the blood vessels.
  • Swelling and pain. Some people can experience swelling and pain over a prolonged period.
  • Dry eyes. And finally, the eyes may not produce sufficient tears as you face the symptoms, leading to dry eye syndrome.

How Heart Health Can Affect the Eyes

Any form of heart disease can directly affect the eyes. Decreased blood flow to the eyes and damaged blood vessels are just some of the things you have to face with heart disease. You could also develop:

Retinal Artery Occlusion

This condition involves the blockage of blood flow to the arteries in the retina. It occurs due to a buildup of cholesterol or blood clot known as an embolus. Heart disease increases the risk of developing an embolus.

If this is the underlying cause, you will notice eye floaters in your field of vision, together with pressure and pain in the eyes. You could also lose your vision, so early diagnosis is imperative. Do not ignore the floaters, get checked immediately.

Lost Or Distorted Vision

Strokes are notorious for taking away or distorting vision for multiple reasons. Studies show that up to two-thirds of people who have a stroke will sustain vision changes. This is because strokes damage the part of the brain that processes what you see. This will create perception problems, often manifesting as double vision, side vision, and blindness.

Increased Likelihood Of Developing Other Eye Diseases

And lastly, since heart disease lowers your immunity significantly, you will be more prone to developing other eye diseases. Studies show that people with heart disease are more likely to develop eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration. There is also a higher chance of developing vision loss.

How To Keep The Eyes And Heart Healthy

Since eye exams can effectively detect early signs of heart disease. Doctors are becoming increasingly keen on this method. Therefore, ensure that you go for regular eye exams and ask your doctor if there is something you should be aware of.

Until then, here are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make or adopt to prevent the risk of heart and eye diseases. The following tips are top tier for this function:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and gives you dry eye syndrome. Therefore, quitting at any age will significantly reduce the risk, but the earlier, the better.
  • Learn about your family history. Learning about your family health history will let you know if you are at risk and how to be extra careful. Share any concerns with your ophthalmologist plus your general doctor.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced diet ensures you have the necessary nutrients to keep your heart and eyes in proper function. It will decrease the chances of high blood pressure and other conditions.
  • Incorporate regular exercise. Regular exercise keeps your weight optimum and your heart healthy. It decreases the chances of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes which could affect your eyes.

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