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February 12, 2024

By: Aaron Blehm, OD

Health Problems an Eye Exam Can Catch

Surprising Health Problems an Eye Exam Can Catch

When it comes to our health, regular check-ups are crucial for catching potential issues early. While many people associate eye exams solely with vision correction, they may not realize that these appointments offer more than just a prescription update. In this blog post, we explore the surprising health problems that an eye exam can catch, emphasizing the importance of routine eye care for overall well-being.

  1. Diabetes Detection: Believe it or not, the eyes can provide valuable insights into a person’s overall health, including the presence of diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina, is a common complication of diabetes. During an eye exam, an optometrist or ophthalmologist may identify signs of diabetic retinopathy, prompting further investigation and early intervention to manage diabetes.
  2. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Changes in the blood vessels at the back of the eye can be indicative of hypertension. An eye exam allows eye care professionals to observe these vascular changes, potentially leading to the early detection of high blood pressure. Identifying hypertension early is crucial for preventing cardiovascular complications.
  3. High Cholesterol: Similar to hypertension, high cholesterol levels can manifest in the blood vessels of the eyes. Deposits or changes in blood vessel appearance may be noted during an eye exam, prompting a referral to a primary care physician for cholesterol management.
  4. Autoimmune Disorders: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, can have ocular manifestations. Inflammation of the eyes or changes in the appearance of the eye’s structures may be detectable during an eye exam, providing early clues to the presence of an autoimmune condition.
  5. Thyroid Disorders: Thyroid-related issues, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, can affect the eyes. Graves’ disease, in particular, is known for causing eye problems. An eye exam can reveal symptoms like bulging eyes or changes in eye movement, prompting further investigation into thyroid function.
  6. Tumors and Cancers: Abnormalities in the eye, such as unusual growths or changes in the appearance of the optic nerve, may indicate the presence of tumors or cancers. Early detection through an eye exam can facilitate prompt medical intervention and improve the chances of successful treatment.
  7. Neurological Conditions: The optic nerve, an extension of the brain, can be a window into neurological health. Conditions like multiple sclerosis may present with optic nerve inflammation, visible during an eye exam. Detecting these signs can lead to early diagnosis and appropriate management.

Schedule your next Eye Exam with SightMD today!

Regular eye exams go beyond the realm of vision correction; they serve as a comprehensive health assessment. The eyes offer a unique window into systemic health, allowing eye care professionals to detect early signs of various medical conditions. By prioritizing routine eye care, individuals not only safeguard their vision but also contribute to the early detection and management of surprising health problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. Remember, your eyes may be telling you more about your health than you realize. Contact SightMD today and schedule your annual eye exam.

To read more about the topic and how eye exams aren’t just about vision check out this post by the AAO for more great information on the topic.