Diseases Your Optometrist Can Detect

Surprising Diseases Your Optometrist Can Detect
You likely know that when you obtain your annual eye exam, your optometrist examines your eyes for eye diseases, including glaucoma and cataracts. However, you may not realize that optometrists are often the first doctors to detect many serious diseases that affect the entire body.
Read on to learn how your optometrist gets a look into many aspects of your full-body health when performing your eye examination and learn about a few diseases that eye doctors can detect during routine eye examinations.
How Diseases Can Be Detected During an Eye Exam
While your optometrist is busy checking out your eye health, they have a great view of the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue in your eyes. These tissues cannot be viewed in any other area of your body without invasive tests or scans.
While the appearance of these tissues help them detect eye problems, they also help them detect illnesses affecting your entire body.
3 Diseases That Optometrists Often Spot First
While there are many diseases and illnesses that an optometrist can detect during an eye exam, here are just a few of the surprising diseases your eye doctor can detect.
1. Diabetes
An estimated 7.2 million people in the United States actually suffer from type 2 diabetes and don’t even know it. That is often because a person can have type 2 diabetes for years and not experience any symptoms.
However, early treatment is important to limit the damage diabetes can inflict on your entire body. Optometrists are often the first health care professionals to detect type 2 diabetes in people who otherwise do not know they have it.
If they detect blood vessels in the retina that are leaking blood or other fluid, this is a telltale sign that a patient may already be developing diabetic retinopathy. While this condition can lead to blindness when left untreated, with early treatment, it can be managed to protect your vision.
2. Autoimmune Diseases
There are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases. Some of them are difficult to diagnose due to their symptoms that can mimic other health problems. However, many autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation in the eye s— an eye disorder known as iritis, which is inflammation of the iris.
When an optometrist notices that a patient has two bouts of iritis in a year, they often suspect that the patient has an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis.
3. Cancer
Many types of cancer can be very deadly. However, spotting them at the first signs of development can help improve their prognosis if early treatment is sought. Types of cancer that can be detected through eye exams include:
  • Leukemia. If optometrists spot retinal bleeding, this could be a sign of leukemia development.
  • Melanoma. Ocular melanoma can spread to other areas of your body, and signs include unusual specks of color on the surface of your eye.
  • Basal cell carcinoma. This form of skin cancer can develop on your eyelids, and your optometrist always inspects your eyelids during an eye exam.
  • Brain tumors. Optometrists often suspect brain tumors when patients have pupils of differing sizes after dilation, changes in the color of optic nerves, and blurry vision of unknown cause.
This is not an all-inclusive list of the types of cancer optometrists are able to spot. Many forms of cancer can spread to the eyes, such as breast cancer and lung cancer, and optometrists are trained to watch for signs of these cancers as well.
While you should always visit your primary care physician to keep an eye on your full-body health, realize that visiting your optometrist every year is an extra safeguard you can take to not only protect the health of your eyes but also your body.
If you have not had your annual eye exam this year, then reach out to us at b.spectacled to schedule an exam that can help protect your vision and overall health.

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