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It's in the eyes

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The eyes are the most expressive part of our face. They show if you're happy, tired or sad. We rely on our eyes for sight, but what else can our eyes tell us? It turns out, our eyes are a window to our health.

At 52, life was good for Chuck Tanner. The husband, father and grandfather worked hard to take care of his family. But on the way home from work one day, something felt wrong.

"I was sitting in traffic and trying to come to a stop and was sitting, waiting to go ahead. This eye, it looked like water sheeting down over this eye. I couldn't see nothing for a few minutes," Tanner said.

Tanner originally dismissed the symptoms, but his eye still bothered him the next day.

"I was going down the road and cars were coming up on this side of me, and I couldn't see them until they were to the hood of my car," Tanner said.

He knew then he had to get his eyes checked. Tanner's eye doctor sent him to retina specialist Dr. Atul Sharma at Georgia Retina.

"When I looked in his eye, I didn't see any pathology there at all. That's when I realized he may have something else going on that may be behind his eye, in his brain," Sharma said.

"He came up just as serious as everything and he said, 'Chuck, I believe you had a stroke.' I said, 'a stroke? Man, I ain't but 52 years old. Stroke's happen to elderly people, that's not supposed to happen to me,'" Tanner said. 

Sharma feared Tanner could have another stroke at any moment, just by looking at his eye.

"We call these kinds of situations a walking time bomb. You don't know when that event will happen to him. He could have died," Tanner said.

Tanner went straight to the emergency room. His scan showed a complete blockage in an artery to his brain. What Tanner's eyes showed Sharma saved his life, and your eyes can too.

"With the lenses that we use, we can see the actual blood vessels and the state they're in. It can tell us about the health of someone overall," Tanner said.

For example, an inflammation of the eye can signal arthritis, lupus, syphilis or diabetes.

"We have that unique privilege of making findings that nobody else could make," Sharma said.

Tanner knows his outcome could have been drastically different.

"I could have been driving down the road, had a stroke and died, possibly killed somebody or killed myself," Tanner said.

He's thankful his eye held the answers so he could get back to the family he loves so much.

"There's guarantee about waking up the next morning or the next day. I'm more appreciative now than I used to be. I don't take anything for granted, count my blessings," Tanner said.

Sharma said if something is going on with your eyes, get them checked out. It may be something simple for your eye doctor, but it could also signal another health issue.

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