We’ve all heard the expression that the windows are the eyes on our souls but more and more we are also finding that your eyes are the windows on your overall health. More and more optometrists are finding that the eyes show early signs of many diseases and disorder and by looking for these early signs during the eye exam, they are getting a jump on these conditions and in some cases saving lives and in most cases diminishing the effects of the discovered disorders.
Many people don’t see an eye doctor until they notice a change in their vision but an annual eye exam can also detect changes in your overall health.
Brain tumors – Fortunately, these are rare cases, but the presence of a tumor in the brain often causes pressure on the eyes. Tumors cause no pain and therefore can grow undetected. The literature is full of stories of optometrists sending a patient to the emergency room to catch an operable brain tumor. While this is not a reason for an eye exam, it is nice to know that these life threatening issues can sometimes be caught by a different point of view.
High Blood Pressure – Often referred to as the “silent killer”, high blood pressure is a very serious disorder that can rob you of your health in many ways.
A good health history, coupled with a comprehensive eye exam can detect signs of high blood pressure. Blurry vision, caused by the hemorrhaging of the tiny vessels of the eye, is a serious problem that is detected in the course of a dilated eye examination. In addition to treating the patient’s impacted vision, the optometrist can refer the patient to a good primary care physician to get the life threatening high blood pressure under control.
Small Strokes – Sometimes we forget that our vision is not just the domain of our eyes, but rather the partnership between our eyes and our brain. Problems with vision, when the health of the eye is intact, are often signals that something has gone wrong in the brain. Again, the literature is filled with stories of optometrists identifying patients who have had small strokes (which can go on to bigger, life threatening strokes) which have impacted their vision. Of course, strokes and high blood pressure go hand in hand.
Diabetes – One of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the US today, diabetes can go undetected and do its damage for months and sometimes years. By the time symptoms are strong enough to send a patient to their doctor, the disease is often well advanced.
Weakened blood vessels caused by diabetes often show early signs in the eyes. Your optometrists can detect even small amounts of blood in the eye and this is a sure sign of diabetes. With time, this can lead to blindness and diabetes can wreak havoc throughout our body.
Make an annual exam part of your health regimen. You will be happy with your results.