Vision Health Month - Get your eyes checked...and more!

A comprehensive eye exam can do more than test your vision— it could help save your life.

Regular eye exams by a doctor of optometry play an essential role in maintaining your overall health, and could help detect potentially life threatening conditions, like brain tumours, high blood pressure and diabetes. Make an appointment today!

Your optometrists sees more than your eyes...

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.

Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists a close-up look at your blood vessels, veins, and nerves, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health.

High blood pressure

  • Doctors of optometry may be the first healthcare professionals to detect high blood pressure through a comprehensive eye health and vision care exam.
  • Eye health can often signal the presence and state of serious medical conditions, such as hypertension, which is a leading cause of a heart attack, stroke and chronic heart failure.
  • By looking at the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, an eye exam can help identify risks for stroke or heart attack—before they occur.
  • The information obtained through an eye exam can help healthcare providers treat patients preventively to decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes

  • Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. Optometrists sometimes see indicators of diabetes in the eyes before the disease is formally diagnosed.[1]
  • As many as one million Canadians are living with undiagnosed diabetes[2]. Early detection of diabetes through an eye exam not only reduces risk of vision loss, but can minimize the risk of other life threatening complications such as heart disease and kidney failure.

Cancer

  • A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures within the eye and unusual growths, including a rare form of cancer called choroidal melanoma which develops within the cells that make pigmentation in the eye and can be life threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body.
  • Brain tumors, depending on their location in the brain, can cause loss of peripheral vision or can damage the nerves that supply the muscles of the eyes resulting in abnormal eye movements, double vision, or other changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function and can often be the first line of detection of a brain tumor.
  • Skin cancer can also be detected through an eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid. The eye and its surrounding tissues are one of the most common areas of the body where skin cancer is first diagnosed.[3]

Neurological Conditions and Brain Injuries

  • The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain and communicates with the brain via nerve cells. A message is sent from the retina via the optic nerve to the brain for processing.  Any neurological condition that affects nerve cells, for example multiple sclerosis, may affect vision and be detected with an eye exam.
  • The muscles in the eye responsible for eye movements are supplied by nerve cells and controlled by certain parts of the brain.  Several neurological conditions, which affect the brain, including Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy can affect eye movements and even cause double vision.
  • Mental health conditions and brain injuries, including strokes, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking.  A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems with eye movement, and vision training can improve the ability of the eyes to track and work together. Strokes can also cause peripheral vision loss on one side or the other.
  1. http://www.visionmonday.com/CMSDocuments/2016/1/Comprehensive%20Eye%20Exams%20Health%20Brief_DIGITAL.pdf
  2. https://www.diabetes.ca/newsroom/search-news/canadians-urged-to-check-their-risk-of-diabetes
  3. http://www.visionmonday.com/CMSDocuments/2016/1/Comprehensive%20Eye%20Exams%20Health%20Brief_DIGITAL.pdf