The Windows To What Ail You

Your eyes can be subtle clues to your overall health


A trip to the eye doctor can seem mundane — that thing you do once or twice a year to tweak an eyeglass prescription and get on with your day. But don’t dismiss your eyes so casually.

“Beyond typical afflictions like glaucoma or cataracts, your eyes are harbingers of subtle clues to your overall health,” says Dr. Michelle Calder, a doctor of optometry (O.D.) and owner of Urban Optiques in Northville. The eyes are also the only part of your body where blood vessels and nervous tissue can be viewed without invasive tools, making it fairly easy to spot certain systemic health problems with a routine exam.

During your next vision check, keep in mind some of the surprising things that your eye doctor could be seeing:

Prescription drug dosage: If there are dosage issues with prescribed drugs (could someone be taking too much?), an O.D. could probably figure it out. For example, with drugs like Viagra or Cialis (used for erectile dysfunction), problems with dosage might appear as abnormally dilated pupils or the sclera (the white part of the eye) turning blue.

Sexually transmitted diseases: A whole host of STDs, including HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, and herpes, will eventually manifest in the eyes when not controlled.

Hypertension: An O.D. can spot potential high blood pressure if (among other things) the eye’s blood vessels are tightly wound, there are bleeds on the retina, or there is a narrowing of arteries inside the eye.

Multiple sclerosis: Though notoriously hard to diagnose, multiple sclerosis in some people can show up early in the eyes when, among other symptoms, pupils react abnormally to light stimulus.

Colon polyps: Multiple brown and black lesions on the retina can indicate familial adenomatous polyposis, a form of colorectal polyp that may result in cancer of the small and large intestine.

Lung tumors: A tumor of the apex of the lung can cause drooping of the eyelid, constriction of one pupil, and the sinking of the eyeball into the eye socket.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

The Art of Yoga

A local instructor on Crohn’s disease and her path to healing

Meet the Robot Helping to Save Real Lives

SimMan 3G is improving health care one mannequin at a time

Hot Topics in Health

An emergency training workshop, healthcare for Detroit’s homeless, and the aftermath of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria

Be Careful Before You Spritz Your Perfume – You Could Be Breaking the Law

According to a local court ruling, overpowering fragrances are an infraction of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Former American Idol Contestant Who Is Singing in Remission

Manny Torres on music, faith, and his recovery from testicular cancer
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. 7 Michigan Breweries Worth a Trip
    Check out these must-visit locations during your summer travels
  2. To Market, to Market
    Michigan Wine & Cider Festival at Eastern Market May 24
  3. Hour Media’s Real Estate All-Star Party 2017
    Hour Media's Real Estate All-Stars celebrated at the fourth annual Real Estate All-Star Party...
  4. Your Guide to Michigan’s Odd and Unusual Festivals
    We rounded up some of the state’s most niche events, celebrating everything from fishflies to...
  5. Meet the Southwest Detroit Pizzeria Serving Sospeso
    PizzaPlex in southwest Detroit is challenging what it means to be a new business on the block
  6. Dry Times: Looking Back 100 Years After Prohibition
    A century ago, Detroit became the first city in the nation to prohibit alcohol
  7. An Hour With... Candice S. Miller
    Macomb County Public Works Commissioner
  8. ‘Grazie Mille’ For the Memories
    Adventures abound in Italy with Michigan winemaker, grape growers
  9. The Gentleman’s Guide to Style
    From grooming to shopping, a comprehensive directory for stylish men in metro Detroit
  10. Motherhood in Metro Detroit
    From pre-pregnancy thoughts to developing unconditional love, several local women give a glimpse...