Eye health check

How Your Eye Test Can Detect Other Health Issues

Mar 2, 2023 | Eye Health

Our eyes can tell us a lot about our overall health. With specialist skills and knowledge, opticians can detect signs of general health conditions and eye diseases during eye tests. Although opticians can’t give a full diagnosis when detecting signs of a greater health issue, they can refer you to a GP who can help. There is a strong connection between eye health and overall health, and early detection is key to prevention.

What health issues can be detected through an eye test?

1. Diabetes and high blood pressure

During an eye test, your optician will conduct tests to determine if you have a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy. This is when blood vessels in the back of your eye burst or leak fluid.

Not only does this condition affect the eyes, but it’s an indication of a larger overall health issue of diabetes or high blood pressure. Your eye specialist can refer you to your GP for further testing and diabetic treatment.

It is important to have regular eye tests to catch any early signs of physical health issues, so treatment is more effective.

2. Autoimmune diseases

Opticians use a device called a slit lamp to examine any signs of inflammation of the eye. Signs such as swelling and redness indicate that an individual may have inflammation issues. Further tests can also be performed to detect any autoimmune diseases.

Some autoimmune diseases that can be detected are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Graves disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Behcet’s disease

3. High cholesterol levels

High cholesterol levels can have an impact on our eye health. Eye tests can detect Xanthelasma, which is a yellowish plaque build-up on the eyelids. Although it isn’t harmful or painful on the eye, it can be an alarming sign of general health issues in the body.

If left untreated, high cholesterol levels can result in heart disease, stroke, obesity and other cardiovascular diseases. However, Xanthelasma isn’t always an indication of cholesterol, so if you notice a yellowish growth on your eyelids, contact your optician to book an appointment.

4. Thyroid disease

As mentioned above, Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that can be detected during eye tests. It is a result of hyperthyroidism and can show symptomatic signs in the eyes. Opticians typically look out for bulging eyes which is a result of inflammation. Bulging eyes can also cause other eye conditions, such as double vision, dry eyes, and sensitivity to light.

Opticians perform tests such as a Hertel exophthalmometry to measure the disease and determine the extent of swelling complications around the eye. While an eye test alone cannot provide a diagnosis, if signs of thyroid disease are detected, your optician will refer you to your GP for a diagnosis and treatment.

5. Cancer

Cancer can impact and change the functions of our eyes. During an eye test, your optician may detect changes in the shape or colour of a patient’s iris or detect unusual growths. Although this can be rare, this type of cancer called a uveal melanoma can be dangerous and life threatening.

Opticians may also detect optic nerve changes; this can indicate a neurological condition or a brain tumour. Not only does this impact your overall health but can also impact your vision.

Of course, these signs only indicate a further health problem such as cancer, and further tests would have to be done by a medical professional to diagnose the condition.

6. Vitamin deficiency

Eyes can tell us a lot about your overall health, including any deficiencies you may have. Opticians can see changes in the retina such as Bitot’s spots which appear as bubbly, foamy patches on the conjunctiva. This is an indication of low vitamin A levels.

If a patient is lacking vitamin B12, they may suffer from changes in the optic nerve which can lead to vision problems. Low vitamin E can cause pigmentary retinopathy, which is a change in the retina which causes blurred vision and poor night vision.

Do you want an eye test?

If you are experiencing any changes in your vision or have concerns about your eye health, it is always a good idea to book an eye test. Even if you have not noticed any changes, it is recommended that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years.

By booking a comprehensive eye test with Gormley Opticians, you can ensure that your eyes are healthy and that you have the best possible vision.

Do you want a comprehensive eye test? Book an eye test with Gormley Opticians today.


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