As well as conveying emotion, eyes can reveal a surprising amount about a person’s health and age. Doctors always check eyes during a physical examination as they can reflect disease and other problems. In their book, Body Signs, Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Nardi Egan discuss some interesting facts about eyes.
The Skin around the EyesThe skin below the eye is thinner than in other parts of the body and for this reason it often appears dark as the blood is closer to the surface. If the dark circles are more pronounced than usual, this could be due to aging, medications such as aspirin, eczema, hormonal issues, allergies and excess time in the sun.
Bags and swelling under the eyes can be caused by crying, hormonal changes during menstruation and pregnancy, alcohol and certain medicines. A more serious cause is an underactive thyroid.
Occasionally small growths appear on the eyelids. These may be yellowish in color and are caused by fatty deposits under the skin.
Trauma to the nose can affect the skin around the eyes causing swelling, bruising and discoloring.
Problems with the EyeballsMany diseases and conditions can be identified by looking into someone’s eyes. Here are some of the problems to be aware of:
- Bulging eyes can be a harmless family trait or a sign of an overactive thyroid. The excess hormones produced by the thyroid cause the flesh and tissues in and around the eye to swell, making it bulge out of the socket
- Bloodshot eyes occur when the blood vessels in the eye dilate or become inflamed. This can be caused by crying, air-conditioning, alcohol, anticoagulant medication and ocular rosacea
- Jaundice causes the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. Other conditions such as pancreatic cancer, sickle cell anemia and yellow fever can produce the same effect
- A yellowish white arc around the iris is often seen in older people. These are formed from cholesterol deposits and don’t affect vision
- Wilson’s disease which is caused by an excess of copper in the body is signified by the appearance of gold, rust or greenish gold rings in the cornea
- Runny eyes can be caused by allergies and Grave’s disease. Dry eyes may be the result of a dry windy climate and reactions to medication such as antihistamines, antidepressants and antihypertensives