The Crazy Things Your Eyes Can Reveal About Your Health

Our eyes are for more than just vision; certain eye characteristics can signal serious health issues. Your eyes may be indicating that you have one of the following diseases. Be sure to look for the symptom of one deadly brain disease (page 10).

1. Yellow spots around eyes

cholesterol level conceptual meter

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

Health condition: high cholesterol

Maintaining your cholesterol is important for heart health. One signal that it’s too high involves the presence of yellow spots around your eyes, which are actually lumps of fats, including cholesterol. Both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) are too high when these deposits appear.

Next: Are you seeing double?

2. Blindness in one eye

a man rubs his eyes

Blurred or double vision is common with MS. | Source: Thinkstock

Health condition: multiple sclerosis

Those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis often encounter vision problems that come and go. Inflammation of the optic nerve can cause blurred vision or blindness in one eye, and it could last between four and 12 weeks according to WebMD. Other MS symptoms include rapid eye movement and double vision.

Next: Do you want to itch your eyeballs?

3. Eye redness and pain

A skin condition, Psoriasis

Psoriasis can truly affect your eyes, too. | iStock.com

Health condition: psoriasis

Depending on the severity and type of psoriasis, you may experience dandruff-like scales on your skin or more severe, cyclical flare-ups. This autoimmune disease can inflame the clear membrane covering your eyelids and the whites of your eyes, which causes itchiness, pain, and redness.

Next: Is the “pressure” getting to your eyes, too?

4. Damaged blood vessels in the retina

Older Blood Pressure measurement

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

Health condition: high blood pressure

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) can create a condition known as hypertension retinopathy, which damages your retina’s blood vessels. You may experience headaches, too. If the hypertension isn’t discovered during a routine eye exam, it can lead to serious vision damage.

Next: Not all body parts should bulge.

5. Bulging eyes

neck thyroid woman

Are your eyes bugging out? | ChesiireCat/iStock/Getty Images

Health condition: an overactive thyroid

Doctors refer to this symptom as exophthalmos, but it’s more commonly known as thyroid eye disease. When the muscles and fatty tissues within the eye socket become swollen, they push the eyeball forward. Fortunately, vision is only affected in severe cases.

Next: When sugar gets involved with your eyes

6. Distorted vision and detached retinas

Male Diabetic Checking Blood Sugar

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

Health condition: diabetes

The blood vessels in the eyes are sensitive. For diabetics, the extremely high blood sugar can damage those vessels, leading to eye problems and in severe cases detached retinas or vision loss. People with both types of diabetes are at risk for this condition, known as diabetic retinopathy.

Next: Most people don’t know you can get this cancer on your eye.

7. Sores on your eyelids

diagnosis of skin diseases

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

Health condition: skin cancer

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 possible to get intraocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye. Most eye melanomas will develop in the middle part of the eyeball, and vision problems are typically the first sign.

Next: This rare disorder often affects the eyes. 

8. Dislocated lenses

Sick man with fever coughing

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

Health condition: a connective tissue disorder

A rare connective tissue disorder known as Marfan syndrome can directly affect your eyes. Dislocated lenses, as well as retinal detachment, are the most common eye problem since the connective tissue holding the eye lens in place becomes too weak. Other issues, such as astigmatism and glaucoma, are more common in those with Marfan syndrome.

Next: Your eyes may save you from an amputation.

9. Retina bleeding and yellow spots

Coronary circulation is the circulation of blood in the blood vessels

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

Possible health condition: peripheral artery disease

Oddly enough, a routine eye exam can help diagnose peripheral artery disease. Affecting nearly 8.5 million Americans, PAD reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can result in gangrene or even amputation. Research suggests those with abnormalities in their retinal blood vessels have more than double the risk of developing PAD as they age. Bleeding, yellow spots, and areas of blood protruding from vessels in the back of the eye are the most telltale signs.

Next: Your eyes may reveal a deadly condition in your brain. 

10. Droopy eyelids and small pupils

Brain lobes in different colors

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

Health condition: brain aneurysms or tumors

A disease called Horner Syndrome often stems from an underlying condition, like a brain 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 drooping or a small pupil in one eye.

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

11. Drooping eyelids and double vision

Sick woman cough in ved under blanket

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

Health condition: an autoimmune disease

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease where your muscles become rapidly fatigued and abnormally weak. In more than half of reported cases, drooping eyelids and double vision were the first signs. The disease can also affect your ability to speak, swallow, and walk.

Next: Do you or your child have two different-colored eyes?

12. Eye pigmentation

face close-up of beautiful young ethnic woman

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

Health condition: Waardenburg syndrome

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

Next: Thanks to your eyes, you may catch this condition early.

13. An eye tumor

cancer doctor patient

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

Health condition: metastatic cancer in other body parts

Tumors from other body parts can spread to the eye, so 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 to the eyes. Patients with a history of cancer should have their eyes checked routinely.

Next: Do you struggle with oily skin?

14. Oil pockets above the eyelid

Mature woman applying moisturizer to her skin in a mirror

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

Health condition: oily skin

Sometimes, those with extremely oily skin can develop oil pockets above the eyelid, known as chalazions. These pockets are painless but can be uncomfortable; they can be surgically removed. Luckily, they’re not dangerous.

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

15. Cloudy vision

Eye woman eyebrow eyes lashes

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

Health condition: cataracts

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.

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

16. Cotton spots or blood spots on the retina

Doctor and patient

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

Health condition: HIV/AIDS

About 70% of patients with advanced AIDS have some type of eye disorder. The eyes are affected most commonly in the form of retinopathy. This occurs when cotton spots or blood spots appear on the retina. About 30% of patients experience CMV retinitis, a serious eyes disorder involving flashing lights or blurred vision, which leads to vision loss. Occasionally, the retinitis can cause a detached retina.

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

17. ‘Cold sores’ around the eyes

Young man is showing a cold sore

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

Health condition: herpes

Herpes typically develops on the mouth or genitals, but ocular herpes is also a form of the disease that most people don’t know about. Caused by herpes simplex 1, it’s a recurring virus that leads to “cold sores” around the eyes. Eye redness, irritation, and swelling can also be signs.

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