The eyes have long been called the “windows to the soul,” and increasingly, evidence is suggesting that they might be also windows to both the brain and body. Several health conditions can be detected by examination of the eyes, among them diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Medical News Today spoke to experts in the field to discover how the eye can reveal the body’s secrets.
Most of us have our eyes tested regularly, but few may be aware that an eye test is not just for checking vision and correcting sight problems.
Because it has a “window” at the front, the eye is the only part of the body where doctors can, non-invasively, examine the inside of an organ. At the back of the eye is the retinaTrusted Source, where blood vessels and the optic nerve can be clearly seen.
Thanks to this, optometrists and ophthalmologists could diagnose not only disorders of the eye, but also systemic diseases — those that affect other organs in the body or the whole body.
If a routine eye test raises concerns, the optometrist can refer a person to a medical ophthalmologist who will investigate by carrying out further eye examinations. If their investigations reveal a systemic disease, they can then refer the person to the relevant specialist.
Dr. Hagar Ibrahim, senior specialist trainee (ST6) in medical ophthalmology at St. Paul’s Eye Unit, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, in the United Kingdom, told Medical News Today that “a routine eye examination in which the pupils are dilated using eye drops can provide a full and clear view of the optic nerve, which connects to the brain, the retina, […] and all the blood vessels supplying the retina.”
“Therefore, pathology in the eye can be clearly seen during [an] eye examination, both in localized eye conditions and in systemic disease, truly making the eye a window into the rest of the body,” she added.
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