A thorough eye exam is not just about your eyes; it can tell you about a person’s overall health and be an early indicator of various serious conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some diseases can lead to serious eye problems; for example, diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy.
Moreover, the back of the eye or the retina is the only place in the body where a doctor can examine nerves and blood vessels without cutting them open. Viewing these blood vessels and nerves tells a lot about the body, and they can give warnings about several diseases. Here are the conditions your doctor might be able to diagnose during a regular exam.
An eye exam can save your life. Doctors can see everything from brain tumors to lung and breast cancers that spread to the eyes.
A particular type of bleeding in the retina can be a sign of leukemia. An eye doctor may find brain tumors from the changes in the patient’s field of vision.
Malignant melanoma may strike in the back of the eye, and often patients don’t know if it’s there unless it spreads to the very center of their field of vision.
One of the initial clues for type-2 diabetes can be a small amount of bleeding inside the retina. This bleeding is a sign of diabetic retinopathy. Eye doctors often meet patients who this bleeding retina, but they haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes yet.
If this eye condition is left untreated, it can lead to blindness, and taking care of it on time can cut this risk in half.
If diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed early, changes in lifestyle like eating a healthful diet and losing weight can prevent further damage.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be signaled by damaged blood vessels in the eyes. The damage to the blood vessels can be in the form of narrowing and weakening of the arteries.
Hundreds of studies have discovered links between narrowing tiny blood vessels in the retina and heart disease. These links are stronger in people who do not have traditional heart disease risk factors.
Inflammation of the optic nerve or, as the doctors would say, optic neuritis can be a harbinger of multiple sclerosis. It is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. 75% of the people with multiple sclerosis end up with optic neuritis. Also, multiple sclerosis is one of the first signs of optic neuritis in 25% of cases.
Being diagnosed with optic neuritis does not mean you have multiple sclerosis, as it can be the result of an infection or other causes.
Usually, people having optic neuritis experience blurred vision, but sometimes they show no symptoms at all.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that harms small joints of the feet and hands. People who suffer from this disease have high levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood. About one-quarter of the people with rheumatoid arthritis have eye problems. Dry eye is the most usual among them. A person with painful inflammation of the iris is likely to have rheumatoid arthritis 12 to 18 months as the inflammatory chemicals migrate to the eyes.