When you think about signs of heart trouble, you’re probably imagining pain in your chest, difficulty breathing, and light-headedness. However, new research out of UC San Diego Health has revealed that an early marker of heart disease may in fact be found by studying your eyes. Read on full story on what your eyes could reveal about your heart health.
The Blood Vessels
The eyes are particularly interesting to study because, as the UC San Diego researchers said in their findings—published on March 2 in the journal EClinical Medicine by The Lancet—they are the only place in the body where our smallest blood vessels can be easily observed. Decreased blood flow, or other heart disease-related issues like increased blood pressure will trigger visible damage in the eye and alert doctors to underlying or developing problems.
“The eyes are a window into our health, and many diseases can manifest in the eye; cardiovascular disease is no exception,” the paper’s lead author Mathieu Bakhoum, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist and retina surgeon at UC San Diego Health, said in a statement.
Considering heart disease kills more Americans than any other ailment every year, the researchers at the Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health set out to see if a noninvasive eye test could detect underlying heart issues, which would help with early detection.
They surmised that retinal ischemia could serve as an early indicator of heart disease. So, the team looked at how an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, which creates images of the retina, could be studied to see where lesions were occurring. The retina is the inner-most, light-sensitive layer of the eye and anything out of the ordinary there is a cause for concern.