What Your Eyes Can Tell You About Your Health
Your eyes hold valuable clues to your overall health.
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This is why doctors look in your eyes with a light.
Liz Rodovich was at work last December when she noticed a shimmering, crescent-shaped aura on the periphery of her left eye. She assumed it was caused by eye fatigue, from spending too much time on the computer. But when the shimmering episodes became more frequent, and then she awoke one night with a stabbing pain at the junction of her head and neck, the registered nurse wondered if she was getting a migraine preceded by visual aura or, worse, a detached retina. “I knew that something was wrong,” recalls Rodovich, 59. “My vision didn’t seem right the next morning.”
She sought help at the Ottawa General Hospital Eye Institute, where she failed a visual field test, a standard eye test that measures central and peripheral vision. A subsequent CT scan revealed that Rodovich had suffered an embolic stroke in her occipital lobe – the brain’s visual processing centre. A clot had lodged in one of the arteries that supply blood to the eyes, affecting her vision. Though she has a background as an ER nurse, the news stunned Rodovich.
“The presentation of the stroke was something I never would have guessed,” she says. “Generally you think that if you have vision problems, there must be something wrong with your eyes.” Though symptoms such as blurry vision or foreign body sensation can signal a variety of ocular conditions, your peepers also provide a portal into your whole-body health.