Why Routine Eye Exams May be More Important Than You Think

The eyes are the window to the soul. A popular phrase made famous by William Shakespeare meaning you can tell a lot about a person's emotions by looking them in the eyes. What Shakespeare didn't realize is that the eyes are also windows into the overall health of an individual. One of my favorite things to teach my patients is that the eyes are the ONLY organ in the body that we can directly view internal blood vessels without cameras or razors. By using a magnifying lens we examine every person's internal retinal vasculature. The retina contains one of the highest concentration of small blood vessels in the body. By viewing retinal vasculature we can learn a lot about overall health. Specifically, one condition we look for in people with diabetes and hypertension is retinopathy. Retinopathy occurs when something causes the walls of blood vessels to weaken and ultimately leak. Conditions like diabetes and hypertension effect organs throughout the body, so it is reasonable to believe that what we may see in blood vessels inside the eye is likely going on in other areas of the body. This is why it is so important to get routine eye exams even if you think you see great!

This article discusses some relationships between poor ocular health and stroke and dementia. One popular topic in optometry right now is the ability to detect Alzheimer's disease by looking at a retina. While this technology is not readily available, this is an example of how your eyes are windows into your body. If you haven't yet, schedule your annual eye exam today!

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