Getting an eye exam is important for your vision, but how can getting your eyes checked help with heart health? Keep reading to find out.
In addition to letting us see the world around us, our eyes can provide some insights into underlying health issues. There is an arrangement of blood vessels at the back of the eye called the retina vasculature, which is closely connected with your heart health.
By getting an eye exam, your ophthalmologist can inspect the outside and inside of the eye and examine your pupil reflexes, retina, the lens of your eye, and optic nerve. The following is an overview of different heart issues that may be detected through eye exams.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) may cause damage to the eye’s main blood supply, which is a condition known as retinopathy. As a result, people with hypertension may experience blurred vision, damage to the nerve, bleeding in the eye, swelling, and more. When you go for an eye exam, your ophthalmologist may detect signs of hypertension by looking at the blood vessels in your eye.
Specialists may also notice small emboli in the eye during exams, which may come from emboli in the heart or an arteriosclerotic plaque in the carotid artery. Arterial embolisms happen when an embolus travels through the arteries and gets stuck in small vessels like the retina. They can restrict or even block circulation, resulting in tissue damage, blindness, stroke, and even death.
Because diabetes develops gradually over time, some people may not realize they have it, but an eye exam may help detect the condition. High blood sugar can cause issues in the eye’s small blood vessels, increasing the risk of diabetic retinopathy. As a result, you may experience blindness and issues with your heart and kidneys. However, a simple eye exam may help detect it before it’s too late.
Linking Eye and Heart Health
There is increasing research into the connection between eye health and heart health. According to a 2018 study in Nature Biomedical Engineering, there is a machine-learning algorithm that may successfully predict the risk for cardiovascular disease from a scan of the backs of a patient’s eyes.
While they may be helpful in diagnosing certain conditions, retinal specialist Dimitra Skondra, MD, Ph.D., doesn’t believe they will replace traditional eye exams. “The eye of an experienced ophthalmologist can pick up pattern changes but cannot analyze numbers to the degree a computer does,” explains Skondra, an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago Medicine. “But there is still clinical judgment that’s needed, especially when you have to put the history of the patient together and formulate a differential diagnosis and management plan.”
If you care about your heart health, then it’s a good idea to also check your eyes on a regular basis. In addition to eye exams, you can give your heart an extra boost by taking HeartBeet Complete. As a heart supplement, it promotes circulation, blood pressure health, energy levels, and more. Give your health the support it deserves by getting regular eye exams and taking HeartBeet Complete.