February often brings thoughts of heart-shaped candies and heart-themed décor for Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, it should make you think about your heart health too! February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on heart health and disease prevention. Many don’t realize that the heart is connected to every aspect of a person’s health, including their vision. The truth is that our eyes can reveal a lot about our overall health and often indicate underlying severe health issues.
Major Risk Factors for Heart Disease
- High blood pressure (also known as hypertension)
- High cholesterol and diabetes — can also cause Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Retinopathy, and Retinal Vein Occlusion.
These conditions can cause serious, potentially permanent, damage to your eyes if left untreated.
Why We Encourage Patients to Focus on Their Eyes for Heart Health Month
During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses and check your eyes for common eye diseases. They will also assess and evaluate how your eyes function as an indicator of your overall health. Comprehensive eye exams provide the only non-invasive view of blood vessels and the optic nerve.
We recommend following the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” program, which targets seven areas that impact heart health and offers tips to reduce the risk of heart disease. Doing so can also be extremely beneficial for your eye health. They include:
Managing Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, which keeps you healthier for longer.
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you give your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
Reducing Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Eating a heart-healthy diet improves your chances of feeling good and staying healthy for life.
You reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, and blood vessels when you shed unnecessary pounds. You give yourself the gift of active living, lower your blood pressure, and help yourself feel better.
If you have not yet had a comprehensive eye exam this year, now can be an excellent time to do so. Eye exams are not just essential for your vision, but can help healthcare providers gain a more clear understanding of your overall health and wellness. If you have noticed changes in your vision and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay, contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons today. You can also follow us on Facebook for more eye care tips, practice news, and much more.