Yearly eye exams are invaluable for correcting your vision and detecting changes in the eye consistent with visual disorders. Fortunately, this same eye exam can be used to discover underlying medical condition that need additional treatment.
The most common diseases that may be noticed via eye exam are chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Both conditions can eventually lead to blindness if left uncontrolled. Hypertension can damage the blood vessels in the eye, leading to retinopathy. When blood pressure reaches critical levels it can also cause blood vessels in the eye to bleed. People with uncontrolled diabetes are at a high risk for developing cataracts. Similar to hypertension, diabetes can also cause retinopathy. Other eye disorders that are associated with diabetes include glaucoma and diabetic macular edema. Your eye doctor may be the first to notice changes in your eye that make them suspicious of an undiagnosed chronic disease.
There are numerous autoimmune diseases, with many of them having the potential to impact the eyes. For example, Grave's disease is one autoimmune condition that notoriously has eye symptoms. This disorder is an autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism and may cause the eyes to appear large or begin to protrude from their socket. Sjogren's disease is another condition that is frequently discovered because of eye symptoms. Destruction of the mucous membranes contribute to decreased saliva and tear production. Therefore, people with Sjogren's will frequently have dry, irritated eyes. Sjogren's can occur as a primary disorder or secondary to other autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Your eye doctor might discover signs of inflammation in the eye, suggesting there could be an underlying autoimmune disease.
Neurological Conditions And Malignancies
Neurological conditions can eventually affect the nerves responsible for both vision and eye movement. Your eye doctor might notice differences between the eyes, such as a drooping eyelid or limitations in your ability to move a single eye. These issues can be indicative of underlying problems, such as a stroke affecting the eye. In the case of malignancies, your eye doctor could notice abnormal pigmentation in the eye caused by ocular melanoma. Additionally, some people were diagnosed with brain cancer because of blood clots in or behind their eye or other visual disturbances.
Although you may only think of your routine eye exams as a way to be certain your vision is fine or to obtain vision correction, there is more to eye exams. It is not uncommon for eye doctors to be the first person to discover widespread health problems.
Contact professionals like Cripe Stephens & Stickel to learn more.