7 Non-Eye Conditions That an Eye Exam Can Uncover

Having your eyes checked periodically can help identify vision problems while they are still in their early stages. This allows you and your eye doctor to take steps to eliminate the problem or stop or slow its progress, but visiting your eye doctor can also have other benefits. The following are seven health conditions that can be detected through an eye exam.

1. Diabetes

During a routine eye exam, it’s possible for your eye doctor to see blood and other fluids leaking out of small, fragile blood vessels in the retinas; this is called diabetic retinopathy. In fact, many people don’t realize that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

2. Cancer

An eye exam can also reveal changes in the eye’s structure as well as unusual growths. This can include ocular melanoma. This rare form of cancer develops within the cells responsible for creating the pigmentation in the eye. An eye exam can also detect a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. It shows up as lesions on the eyelids. This type of cancer can travel through the eyes and end up in the brain.

3. Hypertension

While the eye exam is being conducted, the doctor may notice bleeding in the new blood vessels located in the eye. They may also detect bends or kinks in some of the vessels leading to the retina that are normally straight. This could be a sign the person has high blood pressure.

4. Autoimmune Disorders

If your eye doctor notices inflammation present in the back of the eye in the light-sensitive retina, that could be an early sign of an autoimmune disorder like Lupus.

5. High Cholesterol

During an eye exam, the doctor may notice that the cornea has a yellow ring around it. This could be an indicator that the person has high cholesterol. This can put them at increased risk for stroke or heart attack. If the eye doctor sees the blood vessels in the retina are beginning to develop a yellow plaque, this also can be a sign of high cholesterol.

6. Thyroid Disease

When the doctor is doing a routine eye exam, they may see that the person’s eyes are bulging. This is a classic symptom of Grave’s Disease. This condition is caused by an overactive thyroid.

7. Tumors

As the eye doctor is examining your eyes, if they realize your eyelids are droopy and your pupils are different sizes, it could mean you have neck tumors or possibly an aneurysm.

As these items show, an eye exam can reveal more than just whether or not you have 20/20 vision—it can help identify early signs of many other health problems.

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