4 Reasons to See Your Eye Doctor

Even if you have 20/20 vision, an annual check-up is still a good idea.

ByMARKHAM HEID, <i>Men's Health</i>
December 09, 2013, 5:04 PM
PHOTO: Your eyes' vessels can help identify hidden health dangers.
Your eyes' vessels can help identify hidden health dangers.
Getty Images

Dec. 9, 2013&#151; -- Eyes aren't just a window to your soul—they could also reveal health problems: Hard-to-spot "micro-bleeds" in the small vessels of your eyes could be a sign of impending heart trouble that only a trip to the eye doc can ID, finds new research from Johns Hopkins University.

How To Keep Your Vision Sharp

Otherwise healthy people displaying these micro-bleeds were 50 percent more likely to develop an irregular heartbeat—an early sign of potential heart disease or stroke risk—than those without the eye issue, the research shows.

Because your eyes' vessels are affected by hypertension or high levels of inflammation, they can help experts identify hidden health dangers, explains study coauthor Sunil Agarwal, M.D., Ph.D. An opthamologist can spot these warning signs early, Dr. Agarwal adds.

Most people skip the appointment if their vision is good, but here are three more good reasons to schedule a visit with an ophthalmologist—as opposed to an optometrist, who focuses on vision issues.

Wider eye vessels signal possible brain problems, finds research in Psychological Science. Because your brain's vessels are similar in size, function, and structure to your eyes', issues with your peepers' veins can be an early warning sign of cognitive disorders like dementia, the research suggests.

Yellowing of the eyes is a tip-off of liver diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. The discoloration is the result of your liver's inability to filter out toxins from your blood.

Different-sized pupils are a sign of a possible brain tumor or stroke, finds research published in Neurology. Both conditions can restrict oxygen or blood flow to one of the pupils, causing the size discrepancy, the researchers say. (Need to see your doctor sooner? Here's how to get in fast.)

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events