Seniors living at the Galloway Ridge retirement community in North Carolina spend a lot of time with each other in outings and across dinner tables. There is lots of conversation and laughter. But they also tend to watch out for each other.

It isn’t just in speech and communications classes that we are encouraged to “look people in the eye.” No, we should take a glimpse into the eyes of those we care about regularly to see what we can learn about their overall health as well. Seniors, especially, are reluctant to share changes in their health with loved ones and doctors. The fear of the unknown is great and sometimes, a gentle push and support could be just what is needed.

The eyes can reveal much more than emotion, they can signal health issues long before the family doctor notices changes. Look over the following and keep it in mind when you are with your senior friends and family.

  • Do the eyebrows thin and disappear from the natural arch of the brow to the sides of the face. This can be a serious sign that the thyroid is not functioning as it should.
  • If a small raised and reddish bump appears, don’t automatically assume it is ‘just a sty.’ It might actually be cancer on your eye or skin.
  • Bumpy yellowish patches on the eyelid could be fat deposits that may indicate elevated cholesterol levels.
  • If you wake up with more gunk in your eyes, that may be a condition known as Blephanitis and hints at a dandruff or acne problem.
  • Changes in vision, such as a bland spot, shimmering lights or wavy lines can be signs of an optical migraine. It may or may not be accompanied by an actual headache and may be caused by a change in the blood flow to the brain. See a doctor.
  • Everyone remembers newborns with yellowish eyes and skin as being jaundiced and pre-mature liver development. Yellowing eyes or skin in adults may be the result of liver dysfunction or a problem with the gall bladder. Again, visit the doctor.

Watching out for each other in a retirement community is so much easier because you have the opportunity to see and talk with other retirees regularly. Just be sure to look into each other’s eyes during the fun times and keep an eye out for changes and signs.