An eye disease that blurs vision and causes blindness is now associated with major heart disease or damage caused by a history of heart attack, heart failure, heart damage or carotid artery disease, according to a study in Eye and Ear in New York. Mount Sinai Hospital (
“For the first time, we were able to link this particular high-risk cardiovascular disease with a specific form of AMD, subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD),” explains lead author R. Theodore Smith, MD, PhD, professor. Ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “This study is the first strong link between AMD, the leading cause of blindness, and heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. In addition, we have strong evidence of what is actually happening: blood supply to the eye is directly reduced. These diseases, either reduce blood supply throughout the body damage to the heart, or from a blocked carotid artery that blocks blood flow directly to the eye. Poor blood supply can damage any part of the body, and with these specific diseases, a destroyed retina and remaining SDDs are that damage. Retinal damage means loss of vision and can cause blindness”.
Can you go blind because of heart disease?
Yes, you are nine times more likely to go blind if you have undetected and untreated heart disease, according to recent research.
In this study, researchers analyzed the eyes of 200 AMD patients and asked them to answer a questionnaire about their history of heart disease. Of the 200 patients, 97 had drusen in the subretinal area (subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD)) and 103 had drusen in the retinal area. Of the 200, 47 had severe heart disease (19 had heart damage from heart failure or infarction, 17 had severe valvular disease, and 11 had a stroke from the carotid artery). 40 of 47 (86 percent) had SDD. The researchers concluded that AMD patients with severe CVD and stroke were nine times more likely to have SDDs than those without (1✔ ✔Reliable Source
Subretinal drusenoid deposits are strongly associated with high-risk vascular disease
Go to source
This study suggests that ophthalmologists may be the first physicians to detect systemic disease, particularly in asymptomatic patients.
How can heart disease cause blindness?
Sudden changes in your vision may be due to blocked blood vessels in the eye, which may indicate a more serious stroke in the brain. Increasing evidence suggests that early damage to small blood vessels in the eyes may predict cardiovascular disease (2).✔ ✔Reliable Source
Eye and heart
Go to source
How to detect underlying heart disease with your eyes?
The most important change to consider at once is any vision change, such as blurred vision, lack of vision, dark areas or shadows.
Other unusual eye changes that may clue you in to possible heart problems include small, yellowish bumps around the eyes or pupils that dilate and contract with the heartbeat (3).✔ ✔Reliable Source
A Window on the Circulatory System: Ocular Manifestations of Cardiovascular Disease
Go to source).
What precautions can be taken to detect heart disease at an early stage?
Routine eye examination
Routine Heart Checkup
- Regular heart health checkups and screenings should begin at age 20, with most tests performed every 2-4 years.
- The guidelines also recommend assessing risk factors, including lipid levels, every 4 to 6 years in adults aged 20 to 79 years.
This study opened the door for multidisciplinary collaboration between Ophthalmology, Cardiology and Neurology, and with additional and stronger research data, appropriate precautionary guidelines can be developed that can help the medical fraternity and patients in early diagnosis of heart diseases.
- Subretinal drusenoid deposits are strongly associated with high-risk vascular disease – (https://bmjophth.bmj.com/content/7/1/e001154)
- Eye and heart – (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23401492/)
- A Window on the Circulatory System: Ocular Manifestations of Cardiovascular Disease – (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32340480/)
- Routine eye examinations for people aged 20-64: an evidence-based review – (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23074485/)