What your eyes reveal about your health

The University of California, San Diego, can develop a smartphone app that can quickly and easily detect early signs of several neurological problems, not Alzheimer’s disease. Cometary? Through the phone camera, able to track the size changes of a person’s students at a resolution level less than a millimeter. The analysis of these measures can then be used to assess cognitive status.

The idea is not new and, in order to measure the evolving technologies, the eyes will always be more relevant for the diagnosis of a large panel of diseases. In fact, due to their partial transparency, they require much less invasive examination methods than other parts of the body.

Without any technology, just looking into your eyes (or your loved ones), you can detect a number of mild health problems yourself – but not that. Here are some concrete examples of some features you can analyze.

Pupil dilation abnormality

The pupil, this “black hole” in the heart of our eye, reacts instantly to light thanks to the iris (colored part, composed of muscle fibers) which is able to contract or dilate the phone of a camera diaphragm .

Pupillary reflexes allow rapid tester in the presence of nerve damage.
Greyson Orlando

It adapts to becoming smaller in bright environments and larger in a darker atmosphere. This pupillary reflex (or photomotor) is commonly verified by health professionals.

A slow or late response of the student’s size may be a sign of several illnesses, especially serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the effect of medication and drug use. Dilated pupils are common in people who use stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines. Very small pupils can be seen in heroin users.

“White eye” color

A change in the color of the sclera (the “white of the eyes”) indicates that something is wrong…

A red, bloodshot eye can, for example, be triggered by alcohol or drug abuse. It can be caused by an irritation or an infection, in most cases, it disappears in a few days.

If the color change is persistent, it may indicate a more serious infection, inflammation, or reaction to contact lenses or their solutions. In extreme cases, a red eye indicates glaucoma, a condition that can lead to blindness.

The difference between a normal eye and a jaundice onset
Yellowing of the whites of the eyes is a sign of liver damage (lower, normal eye, upper, “yellowing”).
sruilk / Shutterstock

Sclerotia turning yellow is the most obvious sign of jaundice (jaundice) or other liver damage. The underlying causes are very variable, and this yellowing of the skin and eye is due to an excess of bilirubin (yellow pigment) in the blood when it can no longer be excreted normally by the liver. These include inflammation of these organs (hepatitis), genetic or autoimmune diseases, as well as certain drugs, viruses or tumors.

Ocular hemorrhage

A small red spot in the white of the eye, a witness to a subconjunctival hemorrhage – or a small blood vessel that has “snapped” locally – can be frightening. Most of the time, there is no reason to worry: the causes of this phenomenon are rarely clear, and the bleeding usually goes away in a few days.

However, it can be indicated for high blood pressure, diabetes and blood clotting problems that cause excessive bleeding. Anticoagulant drugs such as aspirin can also be caused. Also, if this problem is common, it may suggest that you should limit your medication, or at least review the dosage.

Close up on a young man's eyes, his left eye is red
The bursting of a small blood vessel in the white of the eye can be impressive, but it is most often without consequence.
Zay Nyi Nyi / Shutterstock

The appearance of a clear arc

This is a common feature past a certain age, hence its scientific name of arcus senilis (or senile corneal arch, gerontox): a lighter “arc”, sometimes almost white, may form on the periphery of the cornea.

It is due to a cholesterol deposit… but is not necessarily a sign of hypercholesterolemia, and does not decrease visual acuity. In some cases, however, it may actually be linked to high cholesterol and a risk of developing heart disease. Alcoholism can reveal it.

Eye with a clear arch at the edge of the cornea
“Arcus senilis” becomes common beyond the age of 50.
Arztsamui / Shutterstock

Development of a small fat bump

Sometimes the most alarming features that can appear on the eyes are in fact the most benign and the easiest to treat.

A small yellowish cystic bump may appear on the white of the eye: it is a pinguecula, a deposit of fat and protein. This small lesion (which can be caused by exposure to dust, etc.) may be accompanied by mild inflammation and irritation. As it does not cause a visual gene, it does not necessarily require treatment. But if the inflammation sets in, it can be easily treated with eye drops or retired with a small operation.

Pterygium (or pterygium) also comes at the level of the sclera, but the impact is not the same. This time it is an evolutionary pinkish outgrowth that covers the white of the eye; it does not pose a danger to sight until it begins to encroach on the cornea.

Fortunately, its development is very slow. And like the pinguécula, it can be easily removed. In fact, it must be removed well before it reaches the cornea. If left to settle, the pterygium will form an opaque “film” on the cornea that will obstruct vision. One of the main factors behind pterygium (as in the pinguecula) is chronic exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Eye with a pinguecula
This small hump on the cornea is innocuous.
sruilk / Shutterstock

Eyes that become more globular

This is a feature of the face: the eyes can be more or less sunken, spread apart … Some have more exorbitant eyes than others. But sometimes this trait changes and there is a tendency for the eyes to project forward (we speak of exophthalmos). The eye appears to “grow”, which is mainly due to an increase in the eye muscles; if the phenomenon is accentuated, a visual gene is possible, with pain, poor hydration of the globe, etc.

A young man has two globular eyes
Having globular eyes is only problematic if this trait changes.
Garna Zarina / Shutterstock

The cause may be medical and requires special attention. These can be the result of an infection (the most common cause in children), an injury, an inflammation (related to a fungus, an abscess …), a tumor behind the eye (very rare), etc. But the most common cause is a problem with the thyroid gland (80% of these thyroid cases are caused by hyperthyroidism), which triggers inflammation of the eye tissue and causes it to swell. She then touches both eyes.

What the eyelids say

Paupières can also indicate many diseases. These are usually related to minor conditions of the glands associated with them.

L’orgelet is, for example, a common and inconsequential infection of the base of a cilia par des bactéries, which causes swelling and localized redness. It usually goes away on its own or with hot compresses; in case of persistence, he may be retired by a simple procedure. Chalazion, which occurs as a red hump on the upper eyelid and, more rarely, on the lower eyelid, is due to obstruction of a sebaceous gland.

Involuntary spasms and contractions of the eyelid (myokymia) will irritate, bother – but in most cases, the phenomenon is perfectly harmless and is more unpleasant than dangerous. It can be stressful, nutritional imbalance or excessive caffeine consumption.

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