Health and the Eyes

General Health and the Eyes

Posted: Tuesday 7th April 2020

We are currently in the grip of the novel coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic and you may have read that it can affect the eyes in some cases. This is true of many general health conditions: in a previous blog we discussed diabetes in detail. You may be interested to know about some other common health conditions with possible eye involvement as well as Covid- 19:

  • Covid-19/Coronavirus: Can cause a viral conjunctivitis – red, irritated watery eyes. This is only one symptom of Covid-19 and this on its’ own would not be an indication that you have it, unless you also have a persistent cough and/or fever, or other respiratory symptoms. Latest studies show that only 1 person in 100 with Covid-19 will develop viral conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis is usually simply treated with lubricating drops only and should clear up in a couple of weeks. For the latest advice regarding Covid-19 please click here.
  • Common Cold: Can cause a viral conjunctivitis as above. Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and care should be taken with hygiene so it is not spread.
  • Anaemia (low iron): Can result in tiny burst blood vessels in the eye. These may be seen on the white of the eye in the mirror, or by the optometrist when they examine the back of the eye. These will resolve on their own and do not usually need treatment.
  • High Blood Pressure: Can cause problems with the delicate blood vessels inside the eyes, and also affect the optic nerve in severe cases. High blood pressure that is managed well with medication will not usually affect vision. High blood pressure can occasionally cause small blood vessels on the white of the eye to burst and these do not usually need treatment.
  • Arthritis: Linked to dry eye and other tear film issues, this can make the eyes look red and/or feel irritable, gritty, sore, dry, light sensitive, blurry, burning or even watery. For more information about uncomfortable, dry or watery eyes, please click here.
  • Eczema & other skin conditions: The surface of the eye is a continuation of the skin surface and so many skin conditions can cause eyelid skin and ocular surface issues including dry eyes and blepharitis. (inflammation/infection of the lash roots/eyelid edges).
  • Asthma: Asthmatics and people with eczema are more prone to allergies which can affect the eye. Sometimes anti-allergy drops are needed if symptoms are severe. Read our blog post about allergies here.
  • Strokes: Strokes can affect the eyes if they occur in the areas of the brain that involve the visual pathways. The results of strokes can mean that an area of vision is missing in one or both eyes. Sometimes this improves over time and there is no specific medical treatment apart from that issued by the hospital or GP. Vision training or visual aids can be helpful in some cases.
  • High Cholesterol: This can cause a harmless pale ring that can be seen over the outer edge of the iris (coloured part of the eye). Very high cholesterol can cause blockages in the blood vessels in the eyes causing interruption to the blood flow and these are occasionally seen during an eye examination.
  • Cold sores: These can be spread to the eye and so contact lenses should not be worn if you have any active cold sore blisters on your lips. If you think you may have cold sores affecting your eyes, you should seek urgent medical advice.

If you have any concerns about your eyes and your health, you can call us for advice (or email if your enquiry is during the current Covid lockdown) or call 111 if your problem is urgent and out of hours.

< Back