Eyes and the heart: what a clinician should know

Heart. 2023 Oct 26;109(22):1670-1676. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2022-322081.


The eye is prone to various forms of afflictions, either as a manifestation of primary ocular disease or part of systemic disease, including the cardiovascular system. A thorough cardiovascular examination should include a brief ocular assessment. Hypertension and diabetes, for example, would present with retinopathy and dyslipidaemia would present with corneal arcus. Multisystem autoimmune diseases, such as Graves' disease, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis, would present with proptosis, episcleritis and scleritis, respectively. Myasthenia gravis, while primarily a neuromuscular disease, presents with fatigable ptosis and is associated with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and giant cell myocarditis. Connective tissue diseases such as Marfan syndrome, which commonly presents with aortic root dilatation, would be associated with ectopia lentis and myopia. Wilson's disease, which is associated with arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies, would present usually with the characteristic Kayser-Fleischer rings. Rarer diseases, such as Fabry disease, would be accompanied by ocular signs such as cornea verticillata and such cardiac manifestations include cardiac hypertrophy as well as arrhythmias. This review examines the interplay between the eye and the cardiovascular system and emphasises the use of conventional and emerging tools to improve diagnosis, management and prognostication of patients.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cardiomyopathies; Diabetes mellitus; Hyperlipidemias; Hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular System*
  • Copper
  • Heart
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Marfan Syndrome* / diagnosis


  • Copper