Eyes on Heart Month

One of the coolest things about the human body is its complexity, and how different parts of our body are more directly connected to each other than ever thought before. Think about your eyes and your heart.  

A retinal photograph of my left eye

At first glance, not two (or rather three!) organs you’d think would be closely related.  However, your eyes are, in a sense, a window into your heart and your vascular health. Much like visiting the dentist can hint at the status of your overall health, an eye exam can shed some light on how healthy your heart and cardiovascular system are, especially with regards to high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The technology we use in our comprehensive eye exams can let you see live blood vessels functioning in your eyes in real time! Amazing!

I learned all about my eye/heart connection and just how healthy the blood vessels in my eyes were in the recent past. My family and I were away visiting our best friends, and while out and about one day I had a small “flash” in my left eye.  It was so slight I almost dismissed it, especially because it was painless.

 

 

 

 

 

My left eye with a BRVO -eye stroke

I trusted my instincts however and knowing what I know as an eye care professional, I booked my eye exam the day after we landed to make sure all was well. I discovered I had a branch retinal vein occlusion, or BRVO, in my left eye. BRVO means I had a blockage in one of the smaller veins at the back of my eye that caused the vein to rupture, close to where my eye sends the sharpest images to my brain. BRVO is also nicknamed an “eye stroke.” You can’t get much closer than seeing the eye/heart connection than that! The flash I saw in my eye was the moment my vein ruptured. Yikes!

You can see my healthy eye in the first image, and the most acute bleeding during my BRVO in the second. My optometrist partnered with an ophthalmologist and I had my BRVO treated so it wouldn’t reoccur. My optometrist also partnered with my doctor to check up on my heart, and after a slew of tests, which included monitoring my blood pressure, and checking for diabetes and clotting issues with my blood, I was deemed healthy. Thank goodness I booked my eye exam and didn’t dismiss that little flash! I could have had significant vision loss and an even larger cardiovascular issue going on that might have gone unchecked.

 

 

 

 

Heart Month is this February, and Merivale Vision Care is a Heart Month supporter. To celebrate we are donating $2 from every full eye exam this month to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute!

We have partnered with the Heart Institute every February for the past three years to celebrate Heart Month and are so excited to do it again this year! Heart-eyed emoji’s – no pun intended – all around for looking after your eyes, heart and overall wellness! Ensure you take care of your eyes, and your heart with regular check-ups as part of your wellness practices.

Like our bodies’ systems affect one another, the benefits of wellness practices often spill over into other areas of your life. For example, making your bed in the morning has been scientifically proven to make your day one where you can do all the things. Ensuring your eyes are healthy will make sure you can see all the things, taking care of your heart makes sure you are here for all the things, and giving back puts love into all the things you do. So please come and see us for an eye exam and partner with us to Give with Heart.

Written by Tracey Lee, Registered Optician for Merivale Vision Care

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