May is Healthy Vision Month, which means it’s a great time to focus on your vision! Your eyes are a powerful window to your overall health. Check out how your eyes can serve as an early warning sign for certain health conditions, what you can do to keep your peepers healthy, and some exciting advances in eye care.

A Window to Your Overall Health

High Cholesterol: If you notice yellowish bumps developing on your eyelids, be sure to talk with your primary care provider about it. It could be a condition known as xanthelasma. Xanthelasma isn’t considered dangerous, but it could be an indicator that your cholesterol levels are high. It also could be a sign of heart disease, diabetes, or thyroid issues.1 Also, a yellow or blue ring around the cornea (the outermost clear layer of the eye2) can be a sign of high cholesterol as well.

High Blood Pressure: Red eyes can be related to hypertension. Your eye care professional can also see possible signs of high blood pressure with a progression of certain eye conditions.

Allergies: If your eyes or eyelids are red and irritated, you could be experiencing allergies.

Diabetes: Because of tiny leaks of fluid or blood in the retina, your eye doctor may find symptoms of diabetes before any other symptoms.

Other conditions: Your eye health can be an indicator of other conditions, from thyroid issues to Lyme disease to lupus to vitamin deficiencies.3

Taking Care of Your Vision

Regular eye exams: Because your eyes give such a great snapshot of your health, regular eye exams can help keep you on top of your health and fitness. As a Member of Altrua HealthShare on certain memberships, you have access to discounted optometry services. If you’re not yet a Member of Altrua HealthShare or you have questions about your membership, contact a Member Services Representative for more information at 1.888.539.5396.

In a blink: Ready to learn a wild fact? On average, you blink about 21,600 times a day!4 Your eyes need consistent moisture and the clean sweep of your blink. All too often, as we stare at screens, we might not be blinking as often as we should. Studies show that when we’re on screens, we typically blink about a third less.5 That can put you at risk for blurry vision, light sensitivity and a host of other issues. Even though blinking is something we do for the most part unconsciously, pay attention, particularly when on screens, that you’re blinking frequently. Also, it’s important to give your eyes a break from screens and close work from time to time.

In the shade: You can look cool and protect your eyes while doing it! Invest in good UV protection sunglasses for when you’re out and about. Also be sure to use safety goggles when working around the house and in the yard.

Get those eye-loving vitamins: Vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids and lutein6 are two particular eye favorites when it comes to getting your eyes the nutrients they need.

Sudden changes in vision: If you experience a sudden change in your vision, call your primary care physician.

Exciting Advances in Eye Care

Technology: Better systems for eye disease detection and wearable devices that help enhance low-vision symptoms aren’t just somewhere out in the future; they are becoming available more7 and more quickly. Smart glasses from companies like eSight can help with depth of field issues, reading, and more. Other smart glasses use audio information to help inform the wearer about their surroundings.8

In addition to wearable technology, medical procedures like gene therapy and stem cell therapy are making more and more advances to slow the progression of inherited eye conditions. While these types of procedures are not yet widely available, continued testing is promising.9

Your call to action? Get an eye exam on the calendar. Tell your primary caregiver about any symptoms or issues you notice. Wear those sunglasses and use your contacts or prescription lenses as instructed by your optometrist. Your eye health is important to your overall health. Take care of those eyes and they’ll take care of you!