If you thought eye exams were just about vision, you're not alone. Unfortunately, many Americans skip eye exams because they aren't concerned with their eyesight, and in turn they may miss an opportunity to check for health-related concerns that can sometimes go unnoticed. There are many health problems both severe and minor that can often be hinted at in a comprehensive eye exam, said Dr. Mayli Davis of Advanced Eyelid Surgery Center in Plano, Texas.
"Your eyes say a lot about your health. Not only can they make you appear older or tired, but they can also show signs of health complications such as diabetes and even cancer," she said.
Redness or Yellowing Eyes
Redness of the eyes can point to a variety of health concerns. It may be something specific to the eye such as inflammation, conjunctivitis or even dry eyes. It can also be a sign of allergies or a blood vessel that has burst.
If you notice yellow spots on the eyes, it could be a sign of diabetes. If the eye looks yellow or has a yellow ring around it, this could indicate high cholesterol, jaundice, hepatitis or other problems with the liver or pancreas.
Bumps on the eyelid are actually very common and usually nothing to be too concerned about. In many cases, a bump located on the eyelid is just a sty or a clogged oil gland.
If your eyelid droops on one side or both, it can make you appear tired or older than you actually are, Davis said.
"Drooping eyelids can be caused by undeveloped muscles," she said. "In extreme cases it can also be a sign of a tumor, but this is rare."
It's important to have a drooping eyelid or eyelids evaluated by a medical professional, Davis said, because it can eventually lead to impaired vision if not corrected.
Everyone's eyes are different, and even the shape and size of the pupil can be different from person to person. However, an irregular-shaped pupil can be a sign that something is wrong. Several neurological diseases cause misshapen pupils, and it can even be something as simple as a symptom of migraines.
"It's important to have your eyes evaluated if you think your pupils are irregularly shaped and it's something that has developed recently," said Davis. "In rare cases it can be caused by seizures, tumors and even meningitis."
Thyroid disease is a very common problem, especially in the United States. It occurs when the thyroid gland is either overfunctioning or underfunctioning. Grave's disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States, according to the American Thyroid Association, and one of the most obvious signs of this disease is bulging or protruding eyeballs. This condition should be checked by a medical professional, Davis said.