An eye exam consists of several tests that allow the optometrist to determine the eyes' overall health. This exam can help to update prescriptions and catch any early warning signs of vision issues. Learning what the optometrist is looking for can help you understand the importance of maintaining an eye exam schedule and the frequency…
Can Optometry Detect General Health Problems?
Optometry is a field of medicine that focuses on the eyes. Optometrists are doctors who specialize in this field. They work to detect, diagnose, manage, and treat conditions of the eyes. However, what may be surprising to learn is that, just by examining the eyes, optometry can also detect general health problems.
In this article, discover how optometry can detect health problems that affect the entire body. Read about a few common conditions that may be detectable by an optometrist during a simple eye examination. This information can be useful for knowing what to expect when visiting an optometry office.
Can optometry detect general health problems?
Optometry can detect much more than what most people realize. The average person may think that an optometrist can only identify and diagnose problems related to eyes; however, this is far from the truth! Optometry is indeed the study of the eyes, but the doctors who specialize in this field can detect a wide range of general health problems, many of which have nothing to do with the eyes.
General health problems that can be detected through optometry
The following goes over a few of the most common health problems that optometrists can detect through an eye examination.
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases that people suffer from. It is a collection of issues that affect a person's blood sugar levels. When visiting an optometry office for an exam, the eye doctor may be able to detect diabetes through an examination of the capillaries of the retina. Leaking blood or fluid may indicate that diabetes is present, for example.
Even if cancer has spread to another part of the body, the eyes are often the first organ to show signs of trouble. Any kind of cancer, from skin to blood, is detectable with a simple eye exam. Leukemia may manifest as hemorrhaging inside the retinas, while ocular melanoma can manifest as a change in eye color. During an eye exam, the doctor will examine the area surrounding the eyes for any changes that could indicate a more serious problem, such as new or unusual freckling or dark patches.
Dry eyes, which may be a symptom of another issue, are readily detectable with an eye exam at the optometrist's office. One in four people with rheumatoid arthritis report having dry eyes. The degree to which one has dry eyes may vary from annoying to life-threatening. Rheumatoid arthritis is also characterized by iritis, or inflammation of the iris. Two such flare-ups within a year or three within 18 months are highly suggestive of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients may also develop glaucoma and cataracts and have eye discomfort, sensitivity to light, blurred or impaired vision, and other visual problems if they have inflammatory arthritis.
An optometrist can learn much about a patient's risk for stroke and overall health by looking at the state of their retinas. Stroke risk indicators include microbleeds or other vascular damage in the retina. The optometrist will likely diagnose this situation to be the result of high blood pressure and recommend preventative actions.
If the eye doctor notices that the cornea has a yellow color or tint to it, this may be a sign of high cholesterol. Plaques in the retina of the eye may also indicate high cholesterol, and high cholesterol levels signal that the patient should visit their primary care physician for further care.
High blood pressure is a common health problem that many people deal with. Optometry can detect it through a close-up examination of the eyes. Any noticeable tears, breaks, or unevenness in the blood vessels may indicate an elevated blood pressure, which should be immediately addressed by a health care professional.
Get started with an optometrist today
Optometry can detect many different general health problems, which is one of the many reasons that annual eye exams are so important. Eye doctors can examine the eyes for any noticeable symptoms that could indicate a disease within the eyes or in the whole body.
If you have queries about optometry or detecting general health problems, please reach out to our office so we can better assist you. We can answer any questions that you might be wondering about or address any concerns that you might have. Our team would be happy to hear from you in any way, so get started today!
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