Can your Eye tell something about your Health?

The eye gives us an insight into the functioning of the body. It is an index of the general health of the body and in its own right is the prime organ in the body. Vision is the greatest and most precious of all the senses. The eyes allow us to see, read, look, work, travel etc. They add sparkle to the face and convey messages to concerned persons, which words may not do that effectively! Eyes come in various shapes, which is genetically determined. They can be round, oval, almond shaped, heavy lidded, deep-set or slanting. We are all familiar with the general appearance of an eye, but a closer look gives us a wealth of information.

The white of the eye is called the Conjunctiva. The central portion is the Cornea, which is transparent and slightly raised. Inside the Cornea is the Iris, a pigmented circular diaphragm of thin muscle fibres. At the centre of the Iris is the pupil, which is the aperture (hole) through which light enters. Behind the Iris is the Lens, suspended by ligaments, which lets the images to be reflected onto the Retina at the back of the eye. The Retina is the all important layer, which processes the images and sends it to the brain where it is converted to what we perceive as Vision, the all important sense.

Redness of the Eye is a common condition. It can be due to simple congestion due to dust or due to Conjunctivitis caused by viral or bacterial infection. It can also be due to Glaucoma, Scleritis and other local eye disorders or internal disorders like high blood pressure etc. A yellowish discolouration of the Conjunctiva could mean Jaundice and dysfunction of the liver. On pulling down the lower lid bright red or pink coloured thin blood vessels and tissue are seen normally. In Anaemia the colour is pale or white. In Vitamin A deficiency, still prevalent in many underdeveloped countries, silvery white scales called Bitot`s spots may be seen on the conjunctiva on the left side of the Cornea. It calls for immediate treatment as otherwise eyesight may be lost permanently. The Retina at the back of the eye is usually examined by an instrument called the Ophthalmoscope, through the pupil, which can reveal changes due to High Blood pressure and Diabetes.

The eye is also a showcase of our emotions. Tears well up in the eyes when we are sad and roll down the cheeks when we cry (more sad) or also when we are overwhelmed with joy! In anger and rage the eyes may become blood red. They may also become red after ingestion of alcohol. The eyes (pupils) dilate when we are scared or surprised and constricted when we are angry or disappointed! The eyes (pupils) dilate to let in more light, when the outside light is insufficient and constrict when too much light is focused on the eye. The constriction of the pupils when light is focused onto them is one of the indicators of being Brain dead.

The eye is now an indicator of our identity! Iris scanning has now been adopted by many authorities and governments and captured in millions of identity documents around the world. An even more advanced technique, Retinal scanning, is also being adopted now. The iris and retina are unique to each individual and cannot be duplicated. Thus apart from a photograph and a signature, the iris and the retina are now vital identities.

Eye care should be the priority of every individual. Apart from general eye care like washing and cleaning the eyes daily, it is important to have a complete eye check up every year. The refractive errors if any should be immediately corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses with the correct power. The optician and the optometrist should be consulted to check for any discrepancy. Regular eye checkups and simple home care would help avoid problems with our vision, the most precious of our senses.

Author: Dr. Pilli Samuel Rajkumar, MD (Hyderabad, India)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice