An eye exam is a routine part of preventive health care for most adults. But did you know it can reveal many potential medical problems that may not be so easy to detect without further testing? The eye can tell a lot about your overall health, from general health problems to serious concerns. The retina, or back of the eye, is the only place in your body that can give your eye doctor a close-up view of blood vessels and nerves without having to do surgery. A routine eye exam can be the key to finding early stages of several medical issues.
High blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, an annual eye exam is important to help monitor your condition. Your doctor will look for signs of damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, including weakened and narrowed arteries. These changes can be an early warning sign of trouble ahead. For example, narrowing of blood vessels could signal heart disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
RA is an inflammatory disease that affects joints in the hands and feet. Inflammation can happen in the eyes, too. One of the earliest signs of RA is inflammation of the blood vessels in the eyes, which can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam. In fact, changes in the eyes are often one of the first indicators that something is wrong, even before patients experience any symptoms of joint pain or stiffness. If a patient has painful inflammation in the iris, the colored part of the eyeball, over a year’s time, it could be the sign of RA. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can also have very dry eyes.
Changes in your eye health can be a warning sign for diabetes. An eye exam can help to reveal these changes, which may otherwise go unnoticed. If the doctor sees a small amount of bleeding in the retina, it could be a sign of diabetic retinopathy. This is one of the first signs of type 2 diabetes. Catching this condition early is key to being able to make lifestyle changes that will help prevent further damage. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness. An eye exam can help to catch the early signs of diabetes and get you the treatment you need to prevent further damage to your vision.
Signs of cancer may be found in or around the eye. Bleeding in the retina can signal leukemia. A change in the field of vision can signal brain tumors, and malignant melanoma can happen in the back of the eye. Skin cancers may occur on the outer surfaces of the eye while leukemia or lymphoma cause changes to the interior of your eye.
Are you scheduled for your annual eye exam? Give our experts a call today! It could save your life.