Can you read what’s written on that wall opposite you? Only when you have to ask the person next to you to read out the signboard that’s at a distance, do you realize that all’s not well for your eyes. Irrespective of how many times our well-wishers and doctors tell us to go for an annual eye checkup, in a blink of an eye, we forget this advice. We tend to throw caution to the wind and continue to expose our eyes to screens and pollutants all day while paying no heed to their health whatsoever.
As you grow older, your vision changes (generally, in life too). Have you ever experienced spurts of blurred vision, random redness, or unwarranted flashes of light? No, you’re not experiencing a superhero moment; it’s something more real and serious. It is important to focus on your eye health because these signs could be early symptoms of chronic conditions like tumors, cardiac arrests, or even cancer. The eyes can do a lot, from cleaning itself periodically, to signaling us of some underlying diseases (1). But, are your eyes telling you something that you have been ignoring for quite some time now? Here’s some help that you could use to assess your eye health:
1. Do You See Flashing Lights Or Gray Shadows?
We are not talking about the horror movie you watched last night. We are talking about the cobwebs, strands, or spots that float around our vision (also called floaters) (2). If you see a gray curtain that’s obstructing your field of vision, then your retina has been detached (3). This is a red flag staring you right in the face as the retina is responsible for sending the images to the brain. If retinal detachment is ignored, it could lead to blindness. So, tread carefully when you see this sign and mark an appointment with the doctor.
2. Are Your Eyes Red And Dry?
The kind of redness that you see after your eyes have had a long tiring day is okay, but if you have been facing red eyes that causes irritation, dilated blood vessels, and pain (4). The reasons could be as silly as the cat’s hair in your eye or a major allergic reaction caused by your shampoo. Usually, redness in one eye (could be conjunctivitis) is more dangerous than having both your eyes red (could be deeper inflammations). It’s best to see an ophthalmologist before you use artificial tears (eye drops) to lubricate your eyes or remove the red.
3. Do You Have Droopy Eyes?
Age takes a toll on our body and our eyesight isn’t spared either. Sometimes, the thin tissues of the eyes tend to look like they have little hoods over them. This is normal as long as it happens to both your eyes and it happens so with aging. But, you need to be on a high alert if only one of your eyes is droopy or is covering the pupil. Although not always, but ptosis or droopy eyelids could be a cause of an eye tumor (5).
4. Are You Seeing Double?
Diplopia or double vision is when you open your eyes and you see a blurry, double, vision of the things around you (6). Unless you’re intoxicated, this could be a sign of a misalignment of your eyes, droopy eyelids, pain in the cornea, or the lens. It is important to discover the correct cause for this kind of vision as it could be due to a fall, or an infection, or something more serious. The best way to find out is to get a CT scan, an MRI, or some blood tests (whatever your doctor suggests).
5. Twitchy Eyes?
Usually, a twitchy eyelid isn’t anything serious and most of us have experienced this. It can either be the upper eyelid or the lower one. Like most signs, twitchy eyes can be a serious problem if it is persistent. Myokymia eye, as it is called in the medical world, could be a cause of too much caffeine intake, lots of stress, or too little sleep. If you experience twitching, try controlling your lifestyle a little, and if that doesn’t help, you know you need to see a doctor. Very rarely, eye twitching can be a cause of certain nervous disorders like Bell’s palsy or dystonia (7).
6. Do You Have A New Mole?
Moles can be cute and can often be a beauty spot, but it’s not such a beautiful thing when it’s in your eye. If you have always had one, that’s okay. But, if you have a new visitor in the eye, it’s always best to check on it (just like you would if a stranger came home for the first time). It could be a case of primary melanoma, or intraocular melanoma (8).
So, the next time your eye is twitching, or your eyes are teary, don’t brush it off as a bad omen – unless you think the bad omen is an eyesight problem (in that case, do pay a visit to the doctor). Keep an eye out for these signs!