February is American Heart Month, and the perfect time to reflect on the old saying, “Eyes are windows to the soul.” One thing we know at Vold Vision is that eyes are windows to the heart. In fact, a look into a patient’s eye can in some cases reveal silent damage being caused by diabetes and high blood pressure.
“It’s certainly not something we want to find in our patients,” “Dr. Michael McFarland with Vold Vision stated. “However, the earlier it can be identified the more proactive the patient can be in reducing their risk of a future heart attack or stroke.”
The vascular system of your body is one giant structure. Some of the smallest vessels of the vascular system are located in the eye, making it one of the first areas the disease can present.
When visiting our eye doctors at Vold Vision, our team will do an extensive eye exam that looks at every facet of the patient’s eye including the optic nerve, located at the back of the eye. The narrowing or ballooning of blood vessels and swelling of the base of the optic nerve can signal early warning signs of damage to the heart. Using a special lens, the doctor can see changes in the eye’s blood vessels. These changes can indicate more serious systemic diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure). It is estimated that hypertension affects more than 65 million Americans with many not even knowing they have it.
“I can think of several patients during my career, who first heard they may have a heart concern from their eye exam,” McFarland shared. “We encourage our patients to get there yearly health check-ups, and with eye exams that truly begins at infancy and only continues to grow in importance as the patient celebrates more and more birthdays.”
Yearly eye exams are strongly encouraged to maintain proper eye health. Anyone that experiences vision changes and has not had an eye exam in over a year should schedule and appointment with their local vision center.