How Your Eyes Are A Window to Your Health—And Can Save Your Life

comprehensive eye examThe eyes may be the proverbial “window to your soul,” but it’s also true that your eyes are a window to your overall health. The eyes are the only place on the human body where ophthalmologists can visually observe blood vessels. The health of your eyes’ blood vessels can indicate how the rest of your body’s blood vessels may be doing as well.

For example, Dr. Gallaher was performing a comprehensive eye exam on a woman who needed cataract surgery. However, he detected hypertensive retinopathy, which is damage to the retina as a consequence of high blood pressure. Based on this, he suspected she had high blood pressure and recommended that she have that evaluated with her primary care doctor.

Sure enough, the patient had alarmingly high blood pressure but it hadn’t been detected until her eye exam. She had been at risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. When she came back to Dr. Gallaher she told him, “You saved my life.”

Ophthalmologists can detect many overall health diseases through a comprehensive eye examination, such as:

  • Diabetes: changes or damage in the blood vessels of the retina.
  • Carotid artery disease: restricted blood flow to the brain, which puts a patient at risk of having a stroke.
  • Brain tumor: loss of peripheral vision and/or swelling of the optic nerve.
  • High blood pressure: the eyes’ blood vessels may show damage or swelling.
  • Autoimmune disorder: eye inflammation may indicate Lupus or another autoimmune disorder.
  • High cholesterol: a yellowish appearance or ring around the cornea, or plaques in the blood vessels of the retina.
  • Thyroid disease: bulging or protruding eyes, or red, inflamed eyes and vision changes.

In addition, ophthalmologists can detect common eye diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. For all medical conditions—whether related to eye diseases or overall health—early detection is key. Some diseases, such as diabetes, can be detected through an eye exam even before showing up on a blood sugar test.

Detecting and treating any of these medical conditions before they have a chance to progress not only can save your eyesight, but it can save your life. Maintaining a schedule of annual comprehensive eye exams is one of the most proactive steps you can take for your overall health and well-being.

East Tennessee Eye Surgeons specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of both the common and more complex eye diseases. With two locations at 7800 Conner Road in Powell and 744 Middle Creek Road, Suite 200 in Sevierville, East Tennessee Eye Surgeons delivers the highest quality eye care in an exceptional setting. Visit our website to learn more about us, or call us at 865-546-1464 (Powell) or 865-908-7008 (Sevierville).