9 Conditions Discoverable in an Eye Exam
Updated: Nov 8
Written by Inbar Tropen, Senior Marketing Analyst
Zack Dvey-Aharon, the CEO and co-founder of AEYE Health, can frequently be heard saying that while the brain and the heart are the engines of the body, the eyes are its mirror. Many healthcare professionals would agree - without surgery, the eyes are the only body part in which it is possible to get an unobstructed view of internal body parts like blood vessels and nerves.
By looking into the eyes, it is possible to discover many conditions, some of which are directly sight-threatening and related to the eyes, but also some which are systemic and do not directly affect eyesight. A patient may be entirely asymptomatic of an underlying health issue, yet an ophthalmologist can discover the condition immediately when looking into the patient’s eyes. Identifying changes to the retina (the back of the eye), the optic nerve, or other parts of the eye, can be truly life-saving.
Below are 9 examples of conditions that can be discovered via the eye:
One of the common symptoms of diabetes is a retinal disease called diabetic retinopathy which leads to loss of sight. Sometimes, patients may be diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy during an eye exam before knowing they had diabetes. Diabetes can be controlled through proper treatment, and diabetic retinopathy is treatable as well if caught early.
Chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that affects approximately 1.13 billion people worldwide. Of the people who suffer from this condition, less than 1 in 5 have it under control, leading to heart and kidney problems, as well as eye disease such as hypertensive retinopathy. This disease can be seen through narrowed or kinked blood vessels, spots on the retina, swollen macula or optic nerve, or bleeding in the back of the eye.
3. Autoimmune Disease
Some common autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Sjögren's syndrome, giant cell arteritis, and Graves' disease actually show subtle symptoms in the eyes before other body parts, making eye exams a valuable tool to catch the disease early on and minimize its long-term effects.
There are various types of cancers and tumors that are visible in a thorough eye exam. Skin cancers affect the outer surfaces of the eyes and eyelids or show up as dark spots in the retina. Leukemia and lymphoma affect the inner part of the eye, and tumors in various parts of the body can lead to swelling and spreading of the ocular structures.
5. Cardiovascular Disease
Studies show an association between vascular changes in the retina and cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and heart failure. As the eyes show microcirculation non-invasively, they are an important tool for finding these indications early on.
Stroke, a condition in which cell death occurs due to poor blood flow to the brain (blocked or burst blood vessel), is the second most common cause of death and the most common cause of serious disability in American adults. Certain retinal diseases as well as blockages or clots in the retina’s blood vessels can signify an increased risk for stroke.
7. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease in which the body’s immune system accidentally attacks healthy cells, causing inflammation, swelling, and damage in the affected body parts, most commonly the joints, but sometimes in other parts of the body as well - such as the eyes. Arthritis can affect the eyes in several ways, ranging from dry eye symptoms to reduced vision by cataracts or glaucoma.
Dementia is a term which refers to a decline in mental abilities, such as memory, that is significant enough to interfere with daily life. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, a disease that accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases, and this disease often leads to blurred vision. Studies show that a reduced number of blood vessels in the retina is a possible signal of Alzheimer’s.
9. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
It’s a little known fact that nearly all STDs can have significant effects on the eyes. Some diseases can cause direct ocular infection, while others cause indirect infection such as from immune deficiency syndrome acquired from the STD.
AEYE Health’s automated diagnosing system is making retinal screens increasingly convenient and available, enabling patients to diagnose their conditions early.
Ask your physician about integrating AEYE Health’s diagnostic system into your clinic, and visit us at www.aeyehealth.com to learn more.