10 Potentially Urgent Conditions an Eye Doctor Can Spot During Your Annual Exam

While issues with your eyes would likely prompt you to get an eye exam, your eyes actually have a lot more to tell a healthcare professional about what's going on in your body than you might think. Beyond being near or far-sighted and needing a new pair of glasses, an eye exam could literally save your life. Here's what your eyes might reveal:

1. High Blood Pressure

A simple eye exam may reveal broken or bent vessels that could mean you're living with high blood pressure. Unfortunately, there may be no other symptoms to indicate you could be in danger, which is why high blood pressure is known as the silent killer.

2. Diabetes

The tiny capillaries in your eyes could tell an ophthalmologist that you're diabetic, if they're seeping blood or another fluid. If you're having bouts of blurred vision, this could be a sign of being pre-diabetic, a condition most people with don't even know they have, but that can be very dangerous when ignored.

3. Autoimmune Disorders

Eyes that are puffy or inflamed could be telling you that an autoimmune disease is present. Being autoimmune means one or more parts of your body are actually being attacked by the immune system designed to protect you, so having this symptom warrants further investigation by your primary right away.

4. Cancer

Cancer of the eye might present itself as a disfigurement of your eye structure, which an optometrist would readily recognize, but certain skin cancers can occur around your eyes and it's important to spot those right away. If you have a patch of skin that seems discolored or any other anomaly that doesn't go away, it should be checked out.

5. Allergies

You may visit your eye doctor with what you think is a problem with your eyes, only to be informed you actually have an allergy to something in your environment. Any type of irritation or redness could be a sign you're allergic, even if you've never had reactions before. Allergies can show up later in life and may actually be on the rise, perhaps due to pollution or chemical exposure. Whatever the cause, once you know you have allergies, you should be able to find relief with specific treatment.

6. High Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol might show up in your eyes as either a yellow discoloration somewhere or plaque buildup elsewhere. No matter how your eyes are telling you about high cholesterol, it's important that you act upon the information, as this can be a very serious ailment.

7. Stress

If life has been getting to you lately, it may be evident in how your eyes are functioning. Stress can cause an odd and annoying twitching of the eyes, which is likely to drive you a little more bonkers than the stress itself.

Most often, a twitch is nothing to be concerned about; however, it it becomes too frequent or otherwise disrupts your ability to lead a normal life, let an eye doctor have a look.

8. Thyroid Malfunction

The thyroid, although small and seemingly inconspicuous when nothing is wrong, plays a major role in health all over your body, including the eyes. An eye doctor might notice a bulging of your eyes, which may be an indication of Graves' Disease.

9. Vitamin Deficiency

A lack of nutrients in your diet could show up in your eyes in a number of ways, whether you're not getting enough A, B, D, E or other important vitamin. The eyes are no different from any other part of you, in that, they require certain nutrients to function properly; thus, if your optometrist advises you to eat more carrots or spinach, heed the warning!

10. Repetitive Strain Injury

While you might associate repetitive-use injuries with the wrist or back, your eyes also bear the brunt of doing too much of the same thing, particularly when it involves staring at a computer screen. Dry, itchy and red eyes, without other obvious causes, may be caused by spending too much time on your phone or laptop and it might eventually lead to permanent damage.

Make sure you take a break every hour or so, by stepping away from the device and stretching, including your tired eye muscles. If possible, try to cut down on your screen usage, especially the unnecessary time you spend browsing or gaming.

Thinking an eye exam is a mere evaluation of vision is failing to see all the amazing insights an eye doctor has on your health. You now have many more reasons to schedule that annual checkup than ever before. Learn more by contacting an ophthalmologist.