It’s important to remember that the eyes are connected to many other systems in the human body. That makes routine comprehensive eye exams an important part of preventative healthcare—regardless of your age or physical health.
Comprehensive eye exams not only test your vision, but also give doctors of optometry a close-up look at the inside of the eye, including blood vessels, veins and nerves, all of which may contain clues to conditions that affect your overall health.
Some of these conditions can be quite serious, which means that a comprehensive eye exam can actually help save your life. The sooner an issue is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Other health conditions that may show symptoms in the eyes include tumors, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological or brain disorders.Only comprehensive eye exams will help detect these conditions because they evaluate total eye health; sight tests will only gauge how well you see.
- Doctors of optometry are often the first health-care professionals to detect high blood pressure
- By looking at the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, a comprehensive eye exam can help identify risks for stroke or heart attack—before they occur.
- Information obtained through a comprehensive eye exam often helps determine appropriate treatment for patients, decreasing the risks of cardiovascular disease.
- Doctors of optometrists are often able to see indicators of diabetes in the eyes before the disease is formally diagnosed.
- Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, or at the back of the eye.
- Early detection of diabetes through a comprehensive eye exam not only reduces the risk of vision loss, but also can minimize the risk of complications such as heart disease and kidney failure.
- A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures or growths within the eye, including a rare form of cancer called ocular melanoma, which can be life threatening if it spreads.
- Brain tumors can cause loss of peripheral vision, or damage the nerves that supply the muscles of the eyes, resulting in abnormal eye movements, double vision or other changes in vision.
- Skin cancer can also be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid and can possibly spread to the brain through the eye.