Show Your Eyes and Heart Some Love

We all know how important it is to take good care of our eyes with regular Atlantic Eye checkups, but did you know that eye doctors may also be able to detect signs of heart disease during a comprehensive eye exam? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a new study finds that people with heart disease tend to have retinas marked by evidence of eye stroke. Ophthalmologists can spot these signs and help diagnose cardiovascular disease earlier than ever.

Eye stroke?
“Stroke” is a scary word that we usually associate with our hearts rather than our eyes. Eye strokes happen when the eye is deprived of blood flow and oxygen, causing cells to die. This creates a mark, called a retinal ischemic perivascular lesion. These marks can be spotted when ophthalmologists use an imaging tool to take a close look at the retina.

The eye is the only place in the body where a doctor can see the live action of blood vessels, nerves, and connecting tissue without relying on an invasive procedure. That’s why eye doctors are often the first to detect health conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and more.

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 are risk factors for heart disease. They can also cause eye problems like:

• age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
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• blockage in retinal vessels
• cataracts
• 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.

What Helps One Can Help the Other
Here are some important steps you can take to keep both your eyes and heart in good shape:

• Stop Smoking Cigarettes. Smokers are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and AMD.
• Lose Some Weight. Excess weight could increase your risk for AMD, as well as contribute to heart disease. Exercise can reduce your risk.
• Eat Foods for Heart and Eye Health. 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. Does your mother have heart disease? Did your grandfather have diabetes?
Knowing these kinds of things can help you make the right choices to keep your heart and eyes healthy. Knowing your family’s health history ”
can save your sight.
• Make and Keep Your Atlantic Eye Appointments. Regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist will help with early diagnosis and treatment.
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So for Valentine’s Day and every day, give your hard-working eyes and heart the love and attention that will help keep them – and you – happy and healthy. At Atlantic Eye, we always look forward to seeing you!