Problems spotted in the eye are often foreshadowed signs of underlying disease elsewhere. Most people are not aware that signs of serious diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid diseases, and certain cancers can be detected through an eye exam. In fact, eyes and overall health are all connected. Eye doctors are frequently the first to detect signs of abnormal health conditions.
During an eye exam, eye doctors have an unobstructed view of blood vessels and the optic nerve, which are extensions of the brain. They are also routinely checking for dry eyes, digital eye strain, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and so much more. Regardless of age or physical health, eye exams can identify early signs of eye conditions before they impair your vision or cause permanent vision loss.
Bulging eyeballs and retracting eyelids are the main signs of hyperthyroidism, most commonly caused by Graves’ Disease. Considered an autoimmune disorder, this is caused by the thyroid gland producing too much or too little hormone. Thyroid effects can be paired with dry eye, blurry vision, or vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eyes leak yellow fluid or blood. Sometimes, this disease appears in the retina even before a person has been diagnosed with diabetes. Early detection can help people avoid vision loss and other serious complications.
High Blood Pressure
Known as the silent disease, high blood pressure, or hypertension affects one in three American adults. High blood pressure is a telltale sign of onset and/or progression of other diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and so much more. Any unusual activities concerning nerve and blood vessels may be linked to high blood pressure. Abnormal signs include irregular bends, kinks, or bleeding from blood vessels in the back of the eye. Optometrists are able to notice signs of high blood pressure during a dilated eye exam.
High cholesterol can affect the eyes and vision, and the consequences can range from benign and cosmetic to devastating, irreversible blindness. A yellow or blue ring around the cornea may be a sign of high cholesterol, especially in a person younger than age 40. Deposits in the blood vessels of the retina can also indicate elevated cholesterol. This may be the precursor to a life-threatening stroke.
Numerous cancers can be found during a detailed eye exam. Skin cancers affect the eyelids and outer surfaces of the eye. The most common types of skin cancers are basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Leukemia and lymphoma can also affect the interior aspect of the eye. Tumors in the breast and other areas can spread to the ocular structures.
“Early detection is protection”
Keep in mind that early detection is protection. And don’t forget, kids need regular eye exams too! A majority of learning is visual, thus why it is vital children get their eyes checked early and regularly. Annual eye exams result in better eye health, maintaining vision throughout the years.