It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but new research suggests that the eyes may actually be the windows into the heart. Evidence has shown that individuals with heart disease may also have an increased risk of certain types of eye conditions. 1
Doctors use various factors to determine an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, including age, smoking history, family history, and blood pressure. However, changes to the blood vessels in the back of the eye may make for a more accurate prediction. 1
For example, there is a strong relationship between carotid disease and eye diseases. If atherosclerosis is detected in carotid vessels, a patient is more likely to have AMD and diabetic retinopathy. In fact, there is also a link between the changes in retina vessels and higher blood pressure. 2 High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are all major risk factors for heart disease, but can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD), blockage in retinal vessels, cataracts and changes in eye pressure that can cause glaucoma.2
With matters of the heart and eyes, early detection and prevention are key. Practicing a heart-healthy lifestyle can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and also many eye diseases. Having regular exams, with your ophthalmologist and primary care physician may also help detect problems early. Give your eyes and heart some love this month and take the following steps to keep yourself healthy.
Steps for caring for your eyes and heart
Smokers are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and AMD.3
Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
Exercise can reduce your risk for many diseases including, heart disease, diabetes and AMD.
Maintain a diet rich in vitamins and minerals
A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and omega-3 is good for both the eyes and the heart. Dark greens and fish such as salmon, also provide excellent nutrients for heart and eye health. 3
Know your family’s health history
Understanding your family’s health history, help you make the right choices for your heart and eye health. It can also help lower your risk of heart and eye diseases by enabling you with the information you need to take preventative steps to properly care for your health.
Schedule regular doctors’ appointments
Schedule regular exams with your eye care provider and primary care doctor. Regular eye and physical exams can help detect eye and heart disease in their earliest stages, when treatable.