• Take Loving Care of Your Eyes and Heart

    Feb. 15, 2017

    It is often said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. But did you know they also may offer a view into your heart health? With a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist may see evidence of both eye and heart disease.

    What hurts one can hurt the other

    Problems that damage blood vessels in the eye can also block blood vessels in the heart. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes—major risk factors for heart disease—may cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD), blockage in retinal vessels, cataracts and changes in eye pressure that can cause glaucoma.

    Research shows a possible link between having heart disease and having a greater risk of vision loss from AMD. Other studies have shown that people who have retinal vein or artery occlusion may also be more likely to have a stroke.

    Show your eyes and heart some love. Take the following steps to keep your heart and eyes healthy.

    Ditch the cigarette

    Photograph of a man breaking a cigarette

    Smokers are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and AMD.

    Drop some pounds

     Photograph of a man stretching

    Excess weight could increase your risk for AMD, as well as contribute to heart disease. Exercise can reduce your risk.

    Dish up great foods for heart and eye health

    Photograph of heart healthy foods

    The same foods that are good for your heart can help you preserve your vision. Leafy greens (spinach, kale and collards) and cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are good for healthy eyes and better heart health.

    Know your family’s health history

    Photograph of an older mother with her adult daughter

    Knowing that your mother has heart disease or your grandfather had diabetes can help you make the right choices to keep your heart and eyes healthy. Knowing your family's health history can save your sight.

    Keep those doctor appointments

    Photograph of a man talking with his cardiologist

    Make sure to have regular exams with your ophthalmologist and your primary care doctor. Monitoring your health is the best valentine for your body.