A routine eye exam entails a series of procedures to assess, and monitor over time, your vision as well as the health of your eyes. Eye exams can also reveal a wide range of other health problems. An ophthalmologist can detect signs of over 20 different medical risks and conditions with an intensive, but noninvasive, look into your eyes.
Comprehensive eye exams provide so much more than vision correction. For sharp sight and a proactive pulse on your health, visit your nearest Gulf Coast Eye Institute every year.
Health Signs in the Eyes
Here is a baker’s dozen of health issues that an ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect in your eyes during an exam, helping to diagnose:
Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina. Termed “diabetic retinopathy,” this is often the first indication that a person has diabetes.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Bleeding or abnormalities in the blood vessels in the back of the eye can be a sign of high blood pressure. Left untreated, it can cause health conditions such as stroke and heart disease.
If an eye doctor sees a small piece of plaque in the arteries of the retina after dilating your eyes, there are probably larger plaques elsewhere in the body.
Watery, itchy, gritty eyes, and swollen eyelids, are early symptoms of thyroid disease.
If someone experiences more than one episode of iritis (inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye,) an eye doctor will likely refer the patient to a Rheumatologist, suspecting rheumatoid arthritis.
Blurry vision, double vision, “ghost images,” one eye dilated more than the other, changes to the optic nerve color or shape, and other oddities can be signs of a tumor growing in the brain.
Increased pressure in the brain and swelling of the optic nerve can be indications of an aneurysm (a weakness in a blood vessel in the brain that balloons and fills with blood.)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
This degenerative disease causes the immune system to attack the nervous system, causing potentially disabling “miscommunications” between the brain and body parts. Optic nerve inflammation seen during an eye exam might be a sign of MS. Pain when moving the eyes, and double or blurred vision are also symptoms of MS.
- Lyme Disease, Sarcoidosis, and GCA (Giant cell arteritis) are all inflammation-related health conditions that can show up in the eyes.
- Lyme Disease can cause inflammation of the optic nerve, and likely an increase in floaters when the infection begins.
- Sarcoidosis can cause iritis, when the iris is inflamed, and extreme sensitivity to light.
- GCA is inflammation of the arteries that supply blood to the upper body and head. It can cause double vision, blurry vision, and even sudden vision loss.
Myasthenia Gravis and Sjorgens Syndrome are a couple of autoimmune diseases that have ocular symptoms.
The first sign of Myasthenia Gravis shows up in the eyes with drooping eyelids and/or double vision.
Sjögren’s Syndrome specifically attacks the glands that produce tears and saliva, so dry, burning eyes is a common symptom.
Vascular disease is any abnormal condition of the blood vessels. Clotting and bleeding disorders can cause bleeding around or in the eyes, called “subconjunctival hemorrhage.” This risks vision loss from the effects of retinal damage.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Some STDs including HIV, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and genital warts, can affect the eyes. Left untreated, some can create other health conditions as well as impaired sight.
Some forms of cancer including Squamous cell, basal cell, and melanoma (the most common skin cancers) can be discovered on eyelids or other outer areas of the eye, while lymphoma and leukemia affect interior aspects of the eye.
… And More
The above is not an exhaustive list. So many health conditions can show signs in the eyes, beyond ocular issues. It is wise to think of seeing your ophthalmologist or optometrist at least once a year, to monitor and protect your vision, eye health, and more.
Eye Exams in South Texas
For convenient, comfortable, and quality eye exams in and around the McAllen, Harlingen, and Laredo, Texas areas, call one of Gulf Coast Eye Institute’s convenient locations.