Eye exams provide clues to heart, blood vessel health
BOSTON, MA — Over a romantic candlelit dinner, the eyes may be the windows to the soul. In a more prosaic light, they're windows to the heart, according to the March issue of the Harvard Heart Letter. A look into the eye can reveal the silent damage wrought by high blood pressure and diabetes and reflect the risk of a future stroke or heart attack.
High blood pressure and diabetes damage blood vessels throughout the body. "Changes inside the retina can offer an early warning sign of damage to the heart, kidneys, and elsewhere that may influence treatment decisions," says Dr. John I. Loewenstein, a retina specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, who contributed to the Harvard Heart Letter article. Such changes include narrowing or ballooning of blood vessels and swelling of the base of the optic nerve.