Regular eye exams can be important to diagnosing and correcting vision problems, and of course they help to protect the physical health of your eyes as well. But because so many other health conditions produce symptoms that manifest in the eyes, going to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist can actually protect your overall health.
When your eye care professional looks into your eyes, he can see blood vessels and nerve tissues which offer subtle clues to your overall health. And best of all, an eye exam is extremely non-invasive when compared to other procedures! Without blood tests or imaging, eye doctors can often spot signs of the following health problems:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Thyroid disorder
It might surprise you to learn that in the case of a few of these situations – heart disease and diabetes, in particular – an eye exam often unearths the first signs of something going wrong! That’s because these diseases can produce very subtle symptoms that go unnoticed by the patient at first, but signs present in the eyes tip off the eye doctor that something is not right.
It’s important to remember that eye care professionals won’t diagnose you with any of the above health conditions. But they will advise you to make an appointment with your primary care physician immediately and share their concerns with you. With early detection and treatment, some of these diseases can be slowed or even reversed.
And remember, vision care isn’t just about detecting vision problems. Many diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma or cataracts, can affect people who have never experienced nearsightedness or farsightedness. Visit an eye care professional regularly to protect both your eyes and the rest of your health.