Even if you were blessed with 20/20 vision and you think your date with a pair of reading glasses is way off into the future, making an appointment with an experienced ophthalmologist should be part of your overall healthcare. A routine eye exam may reveal health problems you weren’t even aware of.
In the early nineties, I started having symptoms that I couldn’t quite understand. I experienced heart palpitations, insomnia, weight loss and my eyes were constantly itchy and red. When I finally took the time to go to a doctor, it was my bulgy red eyes that tipped them off to my eventual diagnosis of Graves disease and hyperactive thyroid.
My diagnosis could have been pinpointed much sooner had I been to see an eye doctor. In many cases, an examination of the retina can yield an abundance of information about how the body is functioning as a whole. In fact, there are many diseases that can be detected from a single eye exam.
Spondyloarthritis (SA) – An inflammatory rheumatic disease often associated with back pain but in 40% of SA cases, the patient has also experienced irisitis, a painful inflammation of one or both eyes.
Diabetic Neuropathy – A routine eye exam can detect blood and other fluids seeping from vessels in the retina, which can lead to blindness.
Sickle Cell Anemia – Characterized by jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes) a red flag for problems with the liver.
Autoimmune Disorders – Inflammation of the retina can be a signal of Lupus or other autoimmune disorder.
Hypertension – Bleeding in new blood vessels could be high blood pressure.
Stroke – Even a field vision test can determine whether partial or complete loss of vision is associated with stroke or pre-stroke activity.
Cancer – Not only can Ocular Melanoma (cancer of the eye) be detected, but skin cancer can often be diagnosed, as well. Ophthalmologists can detect lesions on the eyelids that if left unattended, can spread from the optic nerve to the brain.