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11 Health Risks That Comprehensive Eye Exams Can Detect

When is the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? If it’s been more than a few years now, you are overdue and should schedule an appointment in the near future. 

According to the American Optometric Association, American adults should have eye exams done at least once every two years. And those who are at risk for certain eye conditions should have them done even more often than that.

During a comprehensive eye exam, an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist will test your eyesight through the use of a refraction eye exam. But they’ll also perform many other tests that could detect certain health conditions that you might not be aware of.

You might actually be surprised by how many health risks an optometrist can find during a comprehensive eye exam. Check out 11 of the most common health risks that an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist can spot while performing a comprehensive eye exam.

1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that affects about 10% of Americans at this time. But unfortunately, a large number of people have diabetes and don’t even realize it, which can cause numerous complications.

Diabetes can be identified just by looking at your eyes during a comprehensive eye exam. Those with diabetes often have an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy that causes damage to the blood vessels in a person’s retina.

There are many instances in which people discover they have diabetes through an eye exam as opposed to an exam performed by their primary doctor. If your Optometrist suspects you might be exhibiting signs of diabetic retinopathy during an eye exam, it’s important for you to speak with your primary doctor about it right away.

2. High Blood Pressure

About one-third of American adults suffer from high blood pressure. If left untreated, it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and more.

While examining your eyes, an Optometrist might be able to let you know if you have high blood pressure. It often causes kinks and other issues with the blood vessels located in the back of a person’s eye.

It’s essential for you to get your high blood pressure under control if you have it since it can lead to all sorts of eye problems. Glaucoma is one of the biggest eye conditions that can come along with having high blood pressure.

3. High Cholesterol

Not only can high blood pressure during a comprehensive eye exam, but high cholesterol can also be discovered. 

People with high cholesterol sometimes have either a blue or yellow ring located around their cornea. There might also be deposits left behind in the blood vessels that are in a person’s retina that can indicate high cholesterol levels.

In some instances, an optometrist may even be able to tell if a person is on the brink of having a stroke caused by high cholesterol by looking at their eyes.

4. Cancer

The cancer rate in this country has declined quite a bit in recent years. But cancer is still something that affects a large percentage of the U.S. population every year.

There are many forms of cancer that can’t be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. But when it comes to things like blood, skin, and tissue cancer, your Optometrist might be able to help you out in the detection process.

Each of these forms of cancer will often exhibit signs that can be spotted during a detailed eye exam. At the very least, your Optometrist might be able to tell you that you should consult with your doctor about the possibility of cancer.

5. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a relatively rare disease with only about 400,000 people in the U.S. suffering from it. But it’s a crippling neurological disorder that can really take a toll on a person if they’re ever diagnosed with it.

An Optometrist might be one of the first doctors to see signs of multiple sclerosis taking shape in your body. Those with MS will usually experience inflammation in their optic nerves.

The inflammation can cause everything from blurriness to double vision to occur. It can also make it very difficult for a person to do something as simple as move their eyes around. You shouldn’t ignore any of these signs as they could point to more than just eye problems.

6. Thyroid Disease

Your thyroid gland is very small compared to most of the other parts of your body. But it plays an essential role in things like your metabolism and your overall growth, and it can cause problems for you if it’s not producing the proper amount of hormones.

Those people with conditions like hyperthyroidism will many times have protruding eyeballs. They’ll also have retracting eyelids and other small signs that will suggest a thyroid disease.

You could very well visit your optometrist for a routine refraction eye exam only to find that you have an issue with your thyroid. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with your primary doctor right away to get it under control.

7. Lupus

Do your eyes feel dry almost all the time?

You could very well have a condition that is appropriately called dry eyes. However, you could also be dealing with an inflammatory disease called lupus. It’s an autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack healthy tissues.

An Optometrist might have cause for concern with regards to lupus if they see swelling in the white part of your eyes during an exam. This is one of the telltale signs of lupus.

8. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most painful forms of arthritis around. Much like lupus, it can cause your body to take aim at the healthy tissues living in your body. You’ll experience a lot of inflammation in your joints and other areas as a result.

One of the areas in your body where you might feel the most pain is in your eyes. You’ll be blindsided by how much your eyes might hurt when you have RA.

The redness of your eyes can show an Optometrist that you might have RA. They can also spot it through any inflammation taking place in the white parts of your eyes.

The pain associated with RA can be managed through medical therapy. But it’s important for you to get an official diagnosis for the disease so that you can get the help you need.

9. Lyme Disease

When Justin Bieber announced that he has been unknowingly battling Lyme disease recently, he shed some light on how common it is for the disease to go undetected in people for long periods of time. Many people live for years with the disease without realizing it.

Regular trips to see your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist could reveal the presence of Lyme disease in a person’s body. Those who have it often experience inflammation in their optic nerves. They also tend to see “floaters” in their line of vision when they first get the disease.

You can avoid suffering from Lyme disease unnecessarily if your optometrist is able to see signs of it during an eye exam.

10. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are a little bit like Lyme disease in that they’re impacting a lot of people right now who don’t even know they have them. People are walking around with STDs and suffering because of them without realizing it.

Many STDs can affect the different layers of the eyes. These STDs include:

  • Herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV

Some people are shocked to learn that they may have an STD during an eye exam. But it helps explain many of the other health problems they’ve been dealing with without knowing why.

11. Brain Tumor

Brain tumors aren’t always as serious as they might sound. About 80,000 people are diagnosed with them each year with many of them being of the non-malignant variety.

But it’s obviously important for you to detect a brain tumor sooner than later so that doctors can figure out what to do next. Even if a brain tumor isn’t cancerous, it can still wreak havoc on your brain activity.

Brain tumors can cause a wide range of eye problems in people. Those with them often experience a loss of side vision, eye pupil changes, double vision, and more.

An Optometrist can tell you if they suspect you might have a brain tumor putting pressure on your eyes.

Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam That Includes a Refraction Eye Exam Today

As you can see, it’s so important for people to have a comprehensive eye exam done on a regular basis.

During one, an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist will perform a refraction eye exam to test out your eyesight. They’ll also perform a series of other tests that could potentially turn up signs of serious health risks.

We would love to take a closer look at your eyes today and tell you whether or not you have anything to worry about. We can provide you with peace of mind when it comes to both your eyes and your health as a whole.

Contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.