February is the month of love, but it is also Heart Health Month. I know you are thinking, “What does my heart health have to do with my eye health?” It is often said that the eyes are the windows of the soul; this statement highlights how your eyes can indicate numerous things about your overall health. This statement is more profound because your eyes can indicate numerous things about your overall health. A comprehensive eye exam is a secret weapon from your eye doctor to see evidence of eye and heart disease.
The eyes can be the first window into your overall health for certain diseases, whether cardiovascular, hypertension, or other heart diseases. The eyes are not separated from the rest of the body and are unique because they are one of the only areas where our blood vessels can be seen.
Who is Most At Risk For Developing Heart Disease?
According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 women have some form of cardiovascular disease, and about 116.4 million, or 46% of US adults, are estimated to have hypertension.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is a prevalent cardiovascular disease that can have repercussions throughout the body, including the eye. In general, hypertension can predispose you to various eye problems. It may be as minimal as changes in retinal vessels’ appearance that can indicate high blood pressure and patients who may not know they have high blood pressure.
Simple Ways to Improve Eye Health and Promote a Happy Heart
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, research shows a possible link between heart disease and a greater risk of vision loss from Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). By adopting healthy living and healthy habits, you can show your eyes and heart some love! Incorporate the following steps into your lifestyle to keep your heart and eyes healthy.
- Break the cigarette and stop smoking – Smokers are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
- Have fun and exercise. Excess weight could increase your risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and contribute to heart disease, but consistent exercise routines can reduce your risk.
- Know your family’s health history – Knowing that your mother has heart disease, or your grandfather has diabetes can help you make the right choices to keep your heart and eyes healthy.
- Eat great foods for your heart and eye health – The same foods that are good for your heart can help preserve your eye health. Leafy greens (spinach, kale, and collards) and cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, are good for healthy eyes and heart health.
- Don’t skip your doctor’s appointments – Make sure to have regular exams with your eye and primary care doctors. Monitoring your health is the best “Self-Valentine Love” for your overall health.