August 20, 2015

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What can a comprehensive eye examination say about my general health?

There is much more to a comprehensive eye examination than determining the proper prescription for glasses and contacts. A comprehensive series of tests performed by your eyeDOCS optometrist can also reveal a great deal about your general health.

Vascular Disease: The eye uses more blood for its size than any other part of the body. When your optometrist looks inside your eyes, they can see the blood supply at work. In fact, this is the only way to see the blood vessels in their natural state without doing invasive surgery. This allows us to look for new blood vessels or blood vessels that leak, which may indicate diabetes. Blood vessels may also change their direction or diameter, which is suggestive of hypertension (high blood pressure). Other blood vessels will reveal plaque on their walls or partial blockages, warning of possible future stroke. In some cases, high cholesterol can be detected as well. These changes can all occur with no noticeable effect on the vision.

Neurological Disease: Evaluation of the appearance and function of the optic nerve, which has its ending inside the eye, can give your optometrist insight into the health of the rest of the nervous system.

Multiple Sclerosis will often affect the optic nerve before other symptoms appear. Early diagnosis of MS allows immediate treatment to begin, which improves the prognosis. Other visible changes to the optic nerve can indicate high fluid pressure around the brain or infections within the body. Side vision, or peripheral vision screening, which measures nerve function, can reveal certain tumors or aneurysms in the brain.

Others: Certain cancer types can affect pupil function, while other forms of cancer can spread to the eyes themselves. Ocular inflammation can indicate autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Poor thyroid function can alter eye movement. Metabolic imbalances can reveal themselves under our microscopes. Comprehensive eye examinations are necessary to rule out these and other health problems. In fact, maintaining good vision is just one reason to have your eyes examined regularly!

The optometrists of eyeDOCS have the latest equipment and training needed to monitor your health.


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About the Author
Dr. Shawn Charland

Dr. Shawn Charland graduated from the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry in 1999. He has been practicing optometry since and joined the eyeDOCS team in 2006 and became a partner in 2007. For more information about Dr. Charland and his specialized interests relating to optometry, click here.