What an Eye Exam Can Tell You About the Rest of Your Body

Dr. Justine Fung |

What an Eye Exam Can Tell You About the Rest of Your Body
By: Dr. Justine Fung, O.D.

Optometrists are constantly encouraging their patients to have regular eye examinations
because many eye diseases can be diagnosed before noticeable symptoms occur.
Furthermore, many medical issues found throughout the body can first be detected through the
eye. Here are a few common medical conditions that may be first seen by your optometrist:

Hypertension - Commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension can often be detected
by examining the retina, which is located in the back area of the inside of the eye. The retina is
the only part of the human body where a doctor is able to non-invasively view blood vessels.
This allows the optometrist to see the weakening and narrowing of arteries that can signify
elevated blood pressure and heart disease.
Diabetes - Diabetes is the single largest cause of blindness in Canadians. Diabetes can
damage the blood vessels of the retina which may cause swelling and bleeding in the back of
the eye. It is not uncommon for optometrists to spot early diabetic changes in the eyes of
patients who have yet to be diagnosed. With early detection and treatment of diabetes, the risk
of vision loss can be significantly decreased.
High Cholesterol - Patients with high cholesterol may also show signs in the eye. If the
optometrist detects cholesterol deposits in the front part of the eye, they may recommend
further testing of the patient’s cholesterol levels by their family doctor.
Autoimmune/Inflammatory Diseases - Uveitis is an eye disease that causes redness,
watering, light sensitivity and pain in the eye. It is caused by an inflammation of the uveal layer
of the eye and can be diagnosed and treated by the optometrist. Uveitis may occur in patients
randomly but patients who have suffered from multiple cases of uveitis are usually sent for lab
work to test for other inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis.

Routine eye examinations are not only important to maintain good vision and eye health, but
may be a key part in keeping other parts of your body healthy as well. Patients of all ages can
benefit from making an eye examination a part of their regular health care regimen.