Can an Eye Exam Detect Serious Medical Conditions? By Gordon Wong, OD on July 23, 2021

patient receiving an eye examEye exams are critical for maintaining good vision and eye health. But did you know that eye exams can detect serious medical conditions too? Optometric screenings can reveal signs of severe eye conditions, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and more.

Dr. Gordon Wong and Dr. Wildon Wong perform comprehensive eye exams to evaluate sight, assess ocular health, and screen for certain medical conditions. In La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and San Diego, CA, GW Eye Associates offers contemporary eye care technology and excellent clinical care. 

Here are five health problems that can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam at GW Eye Associates:

1. Eye Conditions

With certain eye conditions, early warning signs are present without any symptoms, so they are often undetected until an eye exam is performed. Optometrists can help preserve your vision with early diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of such issues. Here are some serious eye conditions that can be screened for during your next eye exam:

  • Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to gradually become cloudy. If left untreated, cataracts cause blurred or impaired vision.
  • Glaucoma increases the pressure in the eye and damages the optic nerve (which allows communication between the eye and brain). This condition often presents with few or no symptoms early on, but an optometrist uses various tests to check for glaucoma. Early diagnosis and treatment help prevent vision loss.
  • Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the retina. It is often associated with cell damage due to age and may cause blurred or absent central vision.

2. Diabetes

Diabetic eye diseases are eye issues that affect people with diabetes. These eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Some people with Type 2 diabetes do not experience any symptoms at first, sometimes for many years after the onset of their condition. But a trip to the optometrist might uncover diabetes before a patient experiences any symptoms. If you do not know you have diabetes or if you have poorly controlled diabetes, diabetes can damage your eyes, causing vision loss or blindness. During your annual eye exam, our eye doctors can look for signs of eye damage that could indicate diabetic eye disease.

3. Cancer

Sometimes, signs of cancer hide in the eyes. Eye doctors can detect three types of cancer during eye exams:

  • Melanoma: Our eye doctors will examine the outside of the eye and the inside of the eye to look for enlarged blood vessels. These could indicate an eye tumor. 
  • Leukemia: People with leukemia may have hemorrhages on their retina, which can be detected during an eye exam.
  • Brain cancer: Blurred vision or double vision can mean many things, including brain cancer. Further testing can help determine if patients have brain tumors.

4. Cardiovascular Conditions

Certain parts of the eye can reveal ailments in the heart and coronary vessels. Blocked arteries and high blood pressure are visible through the eyes, as well.

High cholesterol causes blockages in the eyes and may show up as subtle white or yellow around the cornea. These symptoms often go unnoticed but are easily detectable during an eye exam. High cholesterol can lead to blind spots and vision loss.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) may be symptomless but is associated with life-threatening heart disease. Optometrists monitor ocular blood vessels for bends, leaks, and tears caused by blood passing through the vessels with force. If left untreated, the patient may experience restricted blood flow and hemorrhages behind the eye.

5. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause eye inflammation, redness, and discomfort. Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to symptoms such as dry eye. During your eye exam, one of our doctors can check for symptoms that could indicate rheumatoid arthritis. 

Schedule an Eye Exam Today

Routine eye exams can help an optometrist protect your vision and find symptoms of potentially serious overall health problems. Schedule an eye exam by calling (858) 454-4699 or messaging us online to schedule an appointment at GW Eye Associates.

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GW Eye Associates

Our team at GW Eye Associates in La Jolla and Del Mar can provide a wide range of high-quality eye care services. Dr. Gordon G. Wong and Dr. Wildon C. Wong have over 45 years of combined experience and belong to several prestigious organizations, including:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • American Optometric Association

For more information about our services, contact our office online or call us at (858) 454-4699 today.

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