Routine eye exams can save your sight, but they may also save your life. Sometimes, vision loss due to an eye condition may actually be a signal of a more serious health condition. Some of the health conditions that may be detected during a routine eye
Cancer: As cancers spread, they can reach the eye. Brain tumors, breast cancer and even lung cancers have been detected during an eye exam. Changes in a patient’s field of vision can signal a brain tumor, and bleeding in the retina may indicate leukemia.
Diabetes: A small amount of retinal bleeding is often one of the first signs of type 2 diabetes. This eye condition, known as diabetic retinopathy, causes the breakdown of blood vessels in the eye, which can impair vision and even cause blindness if left untreated.
High blood pressure: If not caused by diabetes, damage to the blood vessels and arteries in the eye, or blood in the eyes may be a symptom of high blood pressure. Many studies have found a link between heart disease and narrowing of the small blood vessels in the retina.
Vasculitis: Inflammation in the blood vessels is often caused by vasculitis. The condition can affect the eyes as well. During a dilated eye exam, your doctor can look for any swelling in the eye vessels that might be caused by vasculitis.
Multiple sclerosis: Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) can be a sign of the degenerative disease known as multiple sclerosis (or MS). In 25 percent of cases of
patients with MS, optic neuritis is the first symptom of the disease. MS doesn’t always cause optic neuritis, however. It could also be a result of infection, among other causes.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Frequent bouts of inflammation of the iris (known as iritis) in a short amount of time may signal rheumatoid arthritis. About 25 percent of patients with RA have some type of eye issue related to the disease. Dry eye is the most common eye condition associated with RA.
Regular comprehensive eye exams are as important for protecting your vision as they are for detecting other possible health conditions. Next time you book your physical exam with your doctor, be sure to book an eye exam as well. Your eye doctor and your primary care physician can work together to detect any potential health problems. Early detection may make the difference between losing your sight or not—but it could also save your life.
Contact Key-Whitman today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.