They say the eyes are the window to your soul, but did you know they can also show how healthy your heart is? If you weren’t aware, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by VSP Vision Care and YouGov, only 1% of people know that signs of diseases and conditions that affect the heart and eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can be detected through an eye exam. This is incredibly concerning because if conditions like these are left untreated, they can cause eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and macular degeneration. All of which can cause serious vision issues or complete loss of sight if left untreated.

According to Dr. Jennifer Tsai, a VSP network doctor, the arrangement of blood vessels at the back of the eye are closely connected to the health of your heart. Many patients don’t realize that cardiovascular and eye diseases share the same underlying causes, as well as the same treatment. A root symptom of many of these diseases is inflammation, which your eye doctor can identify through an annual comprehensive eye exam.

“I’ve seen a range of heart-related eye diseases while practicing optometry,” said Dr. Tsai. “Patients often come in with only a complaint of blurry vision. Most are completely unaware of the state of their overall health and how their blurry vision may be caused by an underlying condition.”

Similarly, not being able to see out of one eye or other visual disturbances may be an indication of a deeper heart-related issue. Being aware that the lens you’re seeing the world through can determine the status of your overall health is the first step to healthier living. When early signs of diseases such as stroke, bacterial endocarditis, and diabetes can be identified through an eye exam, there is no reason to forego it.

The next time you’re due for an annual eye exam with your VSP network doctor, remember how crucial it is in taking care of your overall health. Your body will thank you later!

This article was reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Tsai, VSP Network Doctor and practicing optometrist in New York City.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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