Health Problems Eye Doctor’s Can Detect from a Routine Eye Exam
Our eyes are considered windows into our body. Eye doctors can diagnose numerous diseases by evaluating the eye. Many of these diseases are considered silent killers, meaning they display minimal symptoms or no symptoms at all and can wreck havoc on your health and body.
1) High Blood Pressure: Patients with high blood pressure will have changes to the blood vessels in the eye. The blood vessels become more tortuous and change in thickness and shape. Isolated areas in the retina will show signs of ischemia (areas that are lacking a blood supply or oxygen). High blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the eye to break or bleed.
2) Diabetes: Diabetes is a disease of uncontrolled blood sugar, when the sugar is high or fluctuating, it can damage parts of the body, and these changes can be seen firsthand on an eye examination. The blood vessels in the eye can leak which can cause hemorrhages in the eye. Diabetes can also cause swelling of the eye that can cause your vision to change. Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in North America.
3) High Cholesterol: For patients that have high cholesterol, eye doctors may observe a yellow-white ring in the cornea. Cholesterol plaques can also be seen in the blood vessels of the retina.
4) Thyroid Disease: Some patients that have an overactive thyroid gland can develop excessive bulging of their eyes. This bugling is caused by the eye muscles around the eye becoming inflamed. This type of hyperthyroidism is called Grave’s disease.
5) Cancer: Certain skin cancers can develop as a bump on the eyelid. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer found on the eyelid. Squamous cell carcinoma is less common skin cancer, but also can present itself as an irregular lump on the lid. A stye is benign bump on the eyelid, though patients that get recurrent styes should be tested for sebaceous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment cells; this cancer can also be found on the eyelid, conjunctiva, iris or retina.
6) Brain Tumors: Pituitary adenoma is a tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain. This tumor will cause visual field and peripheral vision loss.
7) Multiple sclerosis: 75 percent of patients with multiple sclerosis will exhibit inflammation of the optic nerve at the back of the eye. This is called optic neuritis. In many cases MS is diagnosed after having an eye exam.
8) Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders: Conditions such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation of the eye. This inflammation is called uveitis. Uveitis presents with a red eye, which is sometimes misdiagnosed as pink eye or an eye infection. Eye doctors use a microscope called a slit lamp to differentiate a pink eye from uveitis. If uveitis is occurring further evaluation is done to determine the cause.
Comprehensive eye exams are recommended yearly and check much more than vision. Schedule you examination today, and get your eyes and health checked.