A trip to the optometrist’s office for a basic exam can expose the first signs of many systemic diseases that affect multiple organs or even the entire body.
Good vision and eye health are very important, which is why we recommend yearly eye exams regardless of your current need for corrective lenses. Most changes in visual acuity occur gradually, so you may not know just how much better your vision can be unless you get a refractive eye exam on a (somewhat) regular basis. Additionally, many eye diseases and disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts are extremely manageable if identified early enough.
Many Systemic Diseases Affect Eye Health
But because of a few very unique characteristics of the eye, a trip to the optometrist’s office for a basic exam can expose the first signs of many systemic diseases that affect multiple organs or even the entire body. Everything from diabetes to hypertension to rheumatoid arthritis can cause symptoms that affect eye health, and sometimes these symptoms show themselves years before a disorder can be easily detected by other routine health tests.
The human eye has many parts and is made up of a combination of many different types of tissue. Because of this, it responds to distress from a variety of different body systems. The optic nerve is a bellweather for the entire central nervous system, as are the blood vessels in your eye for the blood vessels in the rest of your body. And because the eye is transparent and has a big hole in the middle of it (the pupil), it is the only part of the body that offers a direct view of what’s going on inside. For example, irregular eye movement or sudden changes in vision can be early warning signs of multiple sclerosis, and the vascular plaque that indicates high cholesterol is easy to spot in the delicate veins of your retina.
Even a routine examination can spot any number of abnormalities in eye function or appearance that may be signs of larger health problems or systemic diseases. Plus, a new generation of diagnostic equipment like the Optos Retinal Imager is making wide angle, high-definition imaging of the many important parts of the eye a quick and painless process. Healthy eyes are part of a healthy body, and a good visual acuity is one of many benefits of a yearly optometric examination. Early detection is often the key to successful management of chronic ocular and systemic diseases alike.