Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul, but in fact they could be the windows to less ethereal parts of the body like the heart.
An eye examination is recommended at least every two years to check the health of your eyes and to examine how well you can see. However, did you know several other health conditions can be identified through a routine eye examination? What we have in the eye is a view into the body that can let you look at lots of different types of tissue such as collagen, blood vessels and nerves, allowing optometrists to see signs of certain diseases which commonly affect these tissues in the eye.
For some, they may be oblivious to the fact that they have a condition until their optometrist reports their findings. Conditions which could be identified through a comprehensive eye examination include:
- Diabetes UK estimates that up to three quarters of a million people in the UK have undiagnosed diabetes. The impact that high blood sugar has on the small blood vessels can be apparent in an eye examination.
- High blood pressure. Again this can be identified by the appearance of the blood vessels in the eye, in this case, the walls around the vessels thicken leading to the narrowing of the vessels meaning less blood reaching the retina. Changes in the vessels can also indicate signs of stroke, high cholesterol and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Inflammatory eye conditions that can be associated with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and spondylitis can also be identified through an eye examination.
- Tumours, we are always looking for signs of cancers such as neuroblastoma, which is most commonly identified through the eyes, but we can also see signs of other tumours. Swelling of the optic nerve can be a sign that there is a tumour putting pressure on the area causing the pressure.Thankfully these are uncommon conditions.
In addition, the OCT scanning equipment that we use as part of our eye examinations to assess the back of your eyes, is being used in clinical trials as a non-invasive way of detecting a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We are following these current clinical trials with great interest.
If it was just vision we checked, we wouldn’t need all the pre-screening tests which we perform at every examination. These tests allow us investigate the health of your eyes, as well as your wider health, so you can leave your eye examination with a degree of peace of mind. Last year we made the decision to invest in the latest, hospital-grade scanner, which is only available in a handful of optometrists in the UK, ensuring our examinations are as comprehensive possible. We hope this gives our patients additional reassurance when they come for an eye examination.
So if you feel your vision hasn’t changed since your last eye examination, this doesn’t negate the need for you to visit your optometrist. You can book an eye examination by calling 0131 225 2235, emailing [email protected] or through our online booking system.