Surprising Health Problems an Eye Exam Can Catch

When you think of an eye exam, you probably imagine reading an eye chart and getting a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses. However, eye exams are much more than just a vision check. Your eyes can reveal a lot about your overall health, and a comprehensive eye exam can detect a variety of surprising health problems. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the unexpected conditions that an eye exam can uncover and why regular eye check-ups are essential for your health.

Eye exam with Ophthalmoscope

Image by Pixaby

Early Detection of Diabetes

One of the most significant health conditions that an eye exam can detect is diabetes. During an eye exam, your optometrist can observe changes in the blood vessels in your retina, known as diabetic retinopathy. These changes can indicate the presence of diabetes even before you experience other symptoms. Early detection is crucial for managing diabetes and preventing serious complications.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

High blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy. During an eye exam, your eye doctor can spot signs of this condition, such as narrowing of the blood vessels, bleeding, or fluid leakage. Identifying hypertension early allows for timely intervention, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other complications.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis can affect various parts of the body, including the eyes. Inflammation, dry eyes, and other ocular symptoms can be early indicators of these conditions. An eye exam can reveal signs of inflammation or other abnormalities that may prompt further investigation and early diagnosis of an autoimmune disease.

Eye exam with OCT

Photo by newarta 

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disorders, particularly hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, can cause noticeable changes in the eyes. Symptoms like bulging eyes (exophthalmos), dry eyes, and double vision can be detected during an eye exam. Identifying these signs can lead to further testing and appropriate treatment for thyroid conditions.

Brain Tumors and Neurological Disorders

Certain neurological conditions and brain tumors can manifest through changes in the optic nerve and visual field. During an eye exam, an optometrist can observe swelling of the optic nerve (papilledema) or other abnormalities that may indicate a neurological issue. Early detection can lead to timely medical intervention and better outcomes.

Eye exam with pinlight

Photo by cottonbro studio

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can sometimes be detected through an eye exam. Yellowish deposits of cholesterol can accumulate in the cornea, known as corneal arcus. While corneal arcus is more common in older adults, its presence in younger individuals can indicate high cholesterol and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ocular Melanoma and Metastatic Cancer

An eye exam can also detect signs of cancer, such as ocular melanoma, a type of eye cancer. Additionally, cancers from other parts of the body can metastasize to the eyes. Regular eye exams can help identify suspicious growths or changes in eye tissues, leading to early diagnosis and treatment.

Round glasses

Shop these frames

At Zenni, we prioritize your eye health and overall well-being. Discover our extensive range of glasses and lenses tailored to fit your unique style and vision needs. Whether you’re looking for fashionable frames or cutting-edge lens technology, we’re committed to helping you achieve optimal vision. Remember to schedule regular eye exams with a licensed eye care professional to ensure your eyes are healthy and your vision is clear. Your eye health is crucial for your overall quality of life, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Avatar of Alyssa Buchanan

Alyssa Buchanan

Dr. Alyssa Buchanan is an optometrist based in Lubbock, Texas. She received her doctorate from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, and has practiced in various settings including Fort Cavazos where she provided eye care for deploying soldiers. Dr. Buchanan has since received her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and continues to strive to provide top-notch eyecare and make a meaningful impact in the eyecare industry.