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by AMY ANDERSON, Daily Mail
Cosmetics are a major cause of eye irritation
The eyes are not only windows to the soul - but to your general health.
If you are ill, or just under the weather, the first place it's likely to show is in your eyes.
Amy Anderson spoke to Professor Alistair Fielder, ophthalmologist at Imperial College, London, to find out what signs to look for.
Read his top 16 signs below and click on the links in the blue box for tips to look after your eyes.
A milky-white ring around the edge of the eye's cornea - the transparent circular part of the front of the eyeball - is usually called arcus senilis. The white ring is caused by the deposition of fat in the cornea and can mean you have high levels of fat in your blood.
Although this is usually found in older people, a different term, arcus juvenilis, is used to describe white rings found in those under 40. This can be an indication of high cholesterol levels and should be checked.
SORE RED EYES
Cosmetics are one of the most common but least suspected sources of eye problems. Misuse of products and adverse reactions to ingredients are often responsible for eye irritation, allergy and infection. Bacteria can contaminate old make-up, causing infections, so it should be replaced frequently.
If you have little white spots on your eyelids, this can also mean too much fat in the blood.
If the skin inside your lower lids looks pale rather than bright pink, this usually means you are anaemic and lacking iron, which is crucial for the healthy production of red blood cells.
Red blotches appearing infrequently on the whites of the eyes are not dangerous. However, more persistent ones could be an indication of high blood pressure which causes blood capillaries to expand and sometimes burst - leaving red marks.
FAILING NIGHT VISION
Can be a sign of vascular problems due to inefficient circulation. Could also be a symptom of parasites in the intestine and a lack of absorption of essential minerals and vitamins.
The acidity levels of blood can affect the way our eyes work, particularly if the pH becomes too acidic. Acids may come from the food we eat or from under-functioning liver and kidneys.
One way to rebalance the system is through diet.
This is usually caused by poor lighting at work and over exposure to computer screens.
In addition emotional stress can be damaging to the eye because stress inhibits absorption of essential B vitamins that help keep eye muscles strong.
The tendency of one eye to close more than the other is another common complaint, especially among student bookworms. This is also a symptom of tired muscles.
To ease the strain, try holding a pencil about a foot away from your face and focusing on it. Then bring it slowly towards you until it goes out of focus, do this three or four times a day.
Double vision can be an indication of nerve damage and you should consult a doctor.
TOO MUCH WHITE
Sanpaku, meaning 'three whites', is a term from the ancient Japanese system of medical diagnoses called Bo-Shin, closely linked to the philosophy of 'yin and yang', on which the macrobiotic diet is founded.
If a person has Sanpaku eyes, it means that the iris is turned upwards so the white is clearly visible on three sides.
The condition has been recognised for centuries in Oriental countries where it was thought to signify poor physical and mental health - caused primarily by an unwholesome diet too high in red meat and acidic foods.
A person's psychological state can also cause the eyes to become Sanpaku because stress affects the optic nerves. This pulls the muscles up, moving the iris with them towards the eye socket, so white space is revealed underneath.
Many high-profile people have been affected, including Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Adolf Hitler and Princess Diana.
Artist David Hockney also recently noted that Cherie Blair (above) has Sanpaku eyes. Some therapists believe that a macrobiotic diet can get rid of the effect, but only over a matter of years.
This can be a sign of glaucoma, a serious eye disorder in which excess fluid causes increased pressure in the eye, or iritis, inflammation of the coloured part of the eye.
Your doctor may send you to hospital for urgent assessment. If you have glaucoma, you will need drugs to reduce the pressure in the eye. Iritis needs immediate treatment with corticosteroid eye drops or tablets.
If you have eyes with a yellow tinge this may mean a liver complaint or infection. Check with your GP.
These and floating spots can be the first sign of a migraine, a severe headache. Symptoms can often be eased by self-help measures, such as painkillers, drinking plenty of fluids and resting in a dark, quiet room.
A droopy eyelid can indicate a muscular problem or nerve damage elsewhere in the body, and you should see a specialist.
ITCHY, RED EYELIDS
Blepharitis(inflammation and scaling) may be the cause. This condition is often associated with dandruff. Using an antifungal shampoo may clear both conditions. Unperfumed moisturising cream on your eyelidsmay also help. If the condition does not improve, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid ointment.
LIDS TURNED IN OR OUT
You may have entropion, a condition in which the eyelid turns inwards so that the lashes rub on the eye, or ectropion, in which the eyelid droops away from the eye, exposing the inner surface of the lid.
Although they are not serious, both conditions can look unpleasant and increase the risk of damage to the cornea. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a minor operation to realign the eyelid.
RAPIDLY FAILING SIGHT
Can be a sign of diabetes due to a lack of protein or a violent form of macular degeneration, where part of the retina ages prematurely and loses function. Consult a specialist.