8 Health Conditions Identified During an Eye Exam

You've likely heard it before: "The eyes are the windows to your soul.” However, the eyes are more than that: they're also the windows to your overall body health.

Here at OptomEyesLife, my mission is to teach you how to care for your eyes and sight. Through years of extensive research and study, I've discovered that there are many vision and ocular health issues that cannot be attributed to the visual system alone. It simply comes down to this: the health of your body can impact the health of your eyes.

According to the results of a 2018 study conducted by VSP, 8 in 10 people (84%) rate vision as their most important sense. Furthermore, nearly everyone (97%) agrees that having healthy eyes is important, but only HALF of people get annual eye exams. If that statistic surprises you, just wait... here's the kicker: Virtually NO ONE (1%) knows that signs of serious diseases and conditions can be detected through an eye exam!

What kind of diseases and conditions am I talking about? Keep reading...


Here is a non-exhaustive list featuring eight systemic conditions that can be identified by an eye doctor during a routine eye exam:

1. Diabetes

Uncontrolled blood sugar (glucose) can significantly affect your vision. Excess fluid accumulates in the lens of your eye and cause it to swell, resulting in changes to your prescription. Chronic, elevated blood sugar can cause the small retinal blood vessel walls to weaken and leak blood and other fluid — a condition called diabetic retinopathy. In more severe forms of this condition, there may be new blood vessel growth (neovascularization) or fluid accumulation in the macula (edema) that can lead to blindness if left untreated. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. Studies show that strict control of blood sugar (HbA1c of 6.5% or less) can slow the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.

2. Hypertension

Chronic, elevated blood pressure can cause narrowing of the retinal blood vessels, which limits the flow of blood in and out of the eye. Other signs of vascular damage to the retina, a condition called hypertensive retinopathy, may include retinal hemorrhages, cotton wool spots, and artery or vein occlusions. While mild forms of hypertensive retinopathy usually do not affect vision, more severe cases can cause significant visual changes.

3. Stroke

A clot or blockage in the retinal blood vessels can reduce blood flow to the eye, resulting in vision loss. Visual symptoms may include a sudden, painless loss of vision, peripheral visual field loss, and blurry or distorted vision. Keep in mind that if there’s a blockage in the tiny blood vessels of the eye, there’s a possibility that it came from a clot elsewhere in the body. A stroke in the eye is a risk factor for having a regular stroke. If you have a condition that affects the blood vessels — including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease — it can raise your chances of an eye stroke.

4. Thyroid Disease

Grave's Disease, also known as Thyroid eye disease, is a potentially vision-threatening autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation of the eye muscles, eyelids, tear glands, and fatty tissues, which can result in the eyes being pushed forward ('staring' or 'bulging' eyes). Symptoms include red eyes, dry eyes, double vision, difficulty closing eyelids, and vision problems.

5. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the nerves in your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. Inflammation and damage of the optic nerve — a condition known as optic neuritis — can often be an early sign of the disease. Optic neuritis is characterized by blurred vision with decreased acuity, loss of color vision, and visual field defects.

6. Certain cancers

Just as you can develop malignant lesions on your skin, you can also develop them on your eyelids, on the eye's surface, or within the eye itself. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer of the skin around the eye. Ocular melanoma, while overall is very rare, is the most common eye cancer in adults. Because most melanomas develop in the part of the eye you cannot see and often don't have any symptoms at first, the disease is often detected during a routine dilated eye exam.

Click the image above to receive a FREE printable list of all 270+ systemic conditions

with visual and ocular manifestations that can be identified during a comprehensive eye exam.

7. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Sleep apnea causes disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels, which may lead to hypertension (see number two on the list) or normal-tension glaucoma. Glaucoma may develop because in OSA there is a reduction in the concentration of oxygen being delivered to the optic nerve, resulting in the nerve becoming susceptible to damage. Externally, laxid eyelids (called floppy eyelid syndrome) that don't properly close while you sleep can expose the eyes and lead to dry eyes or corneal abrasions. Even CPAP machines, often an effective treatment option for OSA, can add to ocular dryness if the mask leaks air and blows it towards the eyes.

8. Gut Disease

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), can cause inflammation of the eye, too. This includes inflammatory changes in blood vessels of the conjunctiva, sclera, and ciliary body, as well as dry eye syndrome. Signs of genetic gastrointestinal diseases and fatal colonic malignancies, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) associated with Gardner’s Syndrome, can be identified during a retinal exam.


Many systemic diseases may precede or occur concurrently with ocular signs and symptoms. These changes to one's eye health or sight may be reported or identified during a routine eye exam. An eye care professional can oftentimes be the first doctor to spot signs of systemic diseases, whether or not you have experienced any symptoms. In fact, there are at least 270 systemic conditions with visual and ocular manifestations that can be identified during a comprehensive eye exam! When your eye doctor performs a dilated eye exam, they are able to view extensions of your nervous and vascular systems, and much more — which can reveal a lot about the health in the rest of your body. This is why it is important to have regular eye exams, regardless of whether or not you've noticed any changes to your vision.

Have you had your dilated eye exam this year?

Click the image above to receive a FREE printable list of all 270+ systemic conditions

with visual and ocular manifestations that can be identified during a comprehensive eye exam.

#Health #Protect #EyeExam

Source: Information contained in the printable list of systemic conditions courtesy of the