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How an Eye Exam Can Spot Early Signs of Disease in Your Body

November 15 2021
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Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted, or have 20/20 vision, the benefits of getting a yearly eye exam extend well beyond maintaining good vision. Your eyes are affected by the body’s systems and processes, so the effects of developing disease often show up in the eyes early on. Here, a Lake Stevens, WA optometrist talks about how eye exams can spot early signs of disease in your body.

How Does an Eye Exam Spot Developing Diseases?

Your eyes contain a mass of delicate blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. These structures can reveal information about other areas and systems in your body. In fact, your optometrist can detect more than 20 health problems in their early stages.

One particular part of an eye exam, called the optomap retinal scan, views the blood vessels located at the back of your eye. These blood vessels, along with other aspects of the eye’s structure, are directly affected by developing diseases in the body.

What Kinds of Health Issues Can a Comprehensive Eye Exam Detect?


Tiny blood vessels supply your retinas with needed oxygen and nutrients. In the early stages of diabetes, these blood vessels may leak into the retina, which is something an eye exam can see. Actually, blood can appear in the retina long before any other symptoms of diabetes lead to a formal diagnosis.

High Blood Pressure

Not surprisingly, the blood vessels in the eye are affected by your body’s blood pressure levels. The effects of high blood pressure can cause leaks in the back of the eye. This is something else your optometrist can spot during an eye exam.

When left untreated, elevated blood pressure levels damage the eyes’ structures and increase your risk of developing serious eye conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Thyroid Disease

Your thyroid gland plays a central role in regulating the hormones that control the body’s metabolism rates. When the thyroid is overworked, inflammation can develop in the tissues and muscles around your eyes, causing the eyeball to bulge or protrude from the eyelid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease.

High Cholesterol

An optometrist can spot signs of high cholesterol in two ways:

  • The appearance of cholesterol deposits (or plaque) in the blood vessels that lead to the retina
  • A blue or yellow ring around the cornea

Overall, a comprehensive eye exam not only helps you stay on top of your eyes’ health but may also reveal early signs of disease. If you have more questions about how comprehensive eye exams work, feel free to contact your Lake Stevens, WA optometrist.

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Grandview Optometry


16616 Twin Lakes Ave
Marysville, WA 98271
(Inside Marysville/Smokey Point Costco)


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