The Crazy Things Your Eyes Can Reveal About Your Health

Our eyes are one of our most important body parts. They allow us to see everything this world has to offer. But they’re for more than just vision — they can also signal some serious underlying health issues. Here are all the diseases your eyes might show you have.

They can signal an overactive thyroid

neck thyroid woman

Eyes can signal thyroid issues. | ChesiireCat/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes, an overactive thyroid can cause bulging eyes. Doctors refer to it as exophthalmos, but it’s more commonly known as thyroid eye disease. It occurs when the muscles and fatty tissues within the eye socket become swollen, which pushes the eyeball forward and gives it a bulging look. Vision isn’t usually affected, but it’s possible in severe cases.

Next: This type of cancer can be revealed through the eyes. 

They can signal skin cancer

diagnosis of skin diseases

Skin cancer can also develop on the eyes. | :Artem Balatskyi/Getty Images

Skin cancer can appear almost anywhere on your body, and that includes the eyelids. If you develop a strange looking sore on your eyelid, it could be basal cell carcinoma. It often causes eyelashes to fall off and doesn’t go away on its own. Plus, it’s also possible to get intraocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye. Most melanomas of the eye will develop in the middle part of the eyeball, and vision problems are typically the first sign.

Next: But cancer in other areas can be revealed as well. 

They can reveal metastatic cancer in other body parts

cancer doctor patient

The eyes can link to cancer in other body parts. | American Cancer Society/Getty Images

Eyes can reveal skin cancer, but they can also reveal cancer in other parts of the body. Tumors from other parts of the body can spread to the eye, and a routine eye exam may be the first time the cancer is discovered. Most commonly, lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women make their way into the eyes. But while there may not be any symptoms, patients with a history of cancer should have their eyes checked routinely.

Next: They say a lot about your skin. 

They can inform you of your oily skin

Mature woman applying moisturizer to her skin in a mirror

Your eyes can say a lot about your skin. | studiokovac/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes, those with extremely oily skin can develop oil pockets above the eyelid. They are known as chalazions. They are painless and can be surgically removed, but they’re uncomfortable and might make you worried about going out in public. Luckily, they’re not dangerous, but they can signal that your skin is full of oils.

Next: This underlying disease can be diagnosed based on your eyes. 

They can signal an autoimmune disease

Sick woman cough in ved under blanket

Your eyes can signal underlying illness. | samotrebizan/iStock/Getty Images

In some cases, the eyes can be a sign of an autoimmune disease known as myasthenia gravis. It’s a disease where your muscles become rapidly fatigued and abnormally weak, and can cause drooping eyelids. In fact, in more than half of the reported cases, drooping eyelids and double vision were one of the first signs. The disease can also affect your ability to speak, swallow, and walk.

Next: This serious sexually transmitted disease can affect the eyes. 

They can reveal you have HIV/AIDS

Doctor and patient

Your eyes can signal HIV/AIDS. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

About 70% of patients with advanced AIDS have some type of eye disorder. HIV causes a breakdown of the immune system, so the eyes can be affected. HIV retinopathy is the most common eye problem for HIV/AIDS patients. It occurs when cotton spots or blood spots appear on the retina. About 30% of patients might experience CMV retinitis, which a serious eyes disorder flashing lights or blurred vision and ultimately lead to vision loss. Occasionally, the retinitis can cause a detached retina.

Next: They might reveal something deadly in your brain. 

They can reveal aneurysms or tumors

Brain lobes in different colors

Eye problems can signal brain problems. | iStock.com/alex-mit

A disease called Horner Syndrome can cause droopy eyelids and decreased pupil size. But the disease often stems from an underlying condition, such as an aneurysm, tumor, or spinal cord injury. The eye symptoms are a result of an obstruction in the nerve pathway on one side of the face, so the disease often only shows symptoms in one eye. But since it can mean you have a serious underlying health problem, see your doctor right away if your eyes are droopy or your pupils look small.

Next: They can reveal this about your heart health. 

They can say a lot about your cholesterol

cholesterol level conceptual meter

A high cholesterol level may show itself in the eyes. | Donskarpo/iStock/Getty Images

Maintaining your cholesterol is important for heart health, but it isn’t always easy to know when your cholesterol is too high. But if you notice any yellow spots around your eyes, it could signal high cholesterol. These yellow spots are actually lumps of fats, including cholesterol, that build up in your eyelids. It shows you have far too much cholesterol in your body; both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) are too high when these deposits appear.

Next: They can also reveal this about your heart. 

They can show evidence of high blood pressure

Older Blood Pressure measurement

High blood pressure can create eye problems. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, can cause eye problems. It can lead to damaged blood vessels in the retina, known as hypertension retinopathy. If the hypertension isn’t treated, it can lead to serious vision damage. You might experience headaches and vision problems as symptoms, but the issue is usually discovered during a routine eye exam.

Next: This serious disease might show itself in your eyes. 

They can inform your doctor you have diabetes

Male Diabetic Checking Blood Sugar

Blood sugar levels can affect your eyes. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

The blood vessels in the eyes are sensitive. For those with diabetes, the extremely high blood sugar can damage those vessels, leading to eye problems. It’s known as diabetic retinopathy. In severe cases, the retina can detach and lead to vision loss. People with both types of the disease are at risk for diabetic retinopathy along with another eye disease, known as diabetic edema, which is the build-up of fluid in the macula region of the retina.

Next: This rare disorder often affects the eyes. 

They can signal a connective tissue disorder

Sick man with fever coughing

Your eyes can signal an underlying tissue disorder. | iStock.com/Alen-D

A rare disorder known as Marfan syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder, can directly affect your eyes. Dislocated lenses are the most common eye problem, since the connective tissue that holds the eye lens in place becomes too weak to do so. Retinal detachment is also a sign of Marfan syndrome. Other issues, such as astigmatism and glaucoma, are more common in those with Marfan syndrome.

Next: Research suggests your eyes are the first sign of this common disease. 

It can signal peripheral artery disease

Coronary circulation is the circulation of blood in the blood vessels

Artery problems can be detected through the eyes. | 7activestudio/Getty Images

Oddly enough, a routine eye exam may help diagnose you with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a disease that causes narrowed blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the limbs. Research has suggested that those with abnormalities in their retinal blood vessels have more than double the risk of developing PAD as they age. According to researchers, bleeding, yellow spots, and areas of blood protruding from vessels in the back of the eye are the most telltale signs that PAD could develop. PAD affects nearly 8.5 million Americans.

Next: Most people don’t know that this disease can develop on your eyes. 

They can reveal herpes

Young man is showing a cold sore

Herpes can also develop in the eyes. | iStock.com/lofilolo

Herpes typically develops on the mouth or genitals, but ocular herpes, or eye herpes, is also a form of the disease that most people don’t know about. It is caused by herpes simplex 1, and it is a recurring virus that can lead to “cold sores” around the eye. Eye sores are the most common symptoms, but eye redness, irritation, and swelling can also be signs. It is transmitted through contact with someone else who is having an outbreak.

Next: Pigmentation problems can signal this underlying condition. 

It can signal Waardenburg Syndrome

face close-up of beautiful young ethnic woman

Different colored eyes could signal a bigger problem. | iStock.com/Jean-philippe WALLET

Heterochromia occurs when the eyes are two different colors. This in itself is very common. But it can sometimes signal a more serious underlying condition known as Waardenburg syndrome. The disease is a genetic disorder that often leads to deafness and pigmentation issues in the eyes. It can also affect the look of one’s nose. And while it is often diagnosed at birth, that is not always the case, so if your child has pigmentation problems in their eyes, see a doctor.

Next: They can (obviously) reveal a lot about this. 

They can reveal a lot about your vision

Eye woman eyebrow eyes lashes

Of course, eyes can say a lot about your vision. | utkamandarinka/iStock.com

This one is a bit obvious, but your eyes can say a lot about your vision. If your eye looks cloudy and appears to have a film over it, it is likely a cataract. Cataracts cause blurred vision, and they can develop over a number of years. Thankfully, they’re correctable with surgery. They’re common and typically appear in older people.

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