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Can an Eye Doctor See a Disease Unrelated to the Eye?

Taking care of the eyes throughout your lifetime will not only extend the ability to see clearly, but having regular eye exams is vital to ensure overall health. There are many diseases which are not of the eyes, but will exhibit symptoms which affect vision. Diabetes and hypertension are well-known for their relationship to the eyes, but other diseases, as well as medication, can cause eye-related issues.

Having annual exams is more than just checking to see if you need eyeglasses. The various tests performed, as well as the information you provide your eye doctor on current medications and symptoms, is a preventive measure in early diagnosis of other potential health risks. There are many medications like Viagra®, which affect the eyes. So it is important to tell your doctor of any medications regularly taken or any symptoms you may have experienced recently.

The National Eye Institute provides an interactive test on glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease which usually, though not always, is indicative of elevated pressure on the optic nerve. The glaucoma test is a standard part of an eye exam.

Thyroid disease causes dry eyes. Puffiness of the lids, swelling, bulging eyeballs, double vision, and pain when moving the eyes are all symptoms of this ailment, which an eye doctor will recognize and refer you to the appropriate health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Other autoimmune diseases which affect the eyes include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s Disease, and many others which can be treated and avoid damage to the eyes with early diagnosis. Specific autoimmune eye diseases, such as Uveitis, have effective treatment which continuing study is improving upon.

An Optometrist, O.D., Doctor of Optometry, D.O., and a medical Ophthalmologist, M.D. are all equally capable of detecting if a person has a condition requiring further care by a specialist. If when examining the eye(s) any sign of symptoms cause concern, the doctor will refer the patient to their medical doctor for further examination and to seek possible treatment.

If you wear eyeglasses it is critical that you keep up with the annual exams, especially as you grow older. Vision normally deteriorates with aging, but self-diagnosis of eye problems is impossible. If you have symptoms, which are either sudden or slowly emerge, consulting an ophthalmologist is the first step.

Though science is continuing to improve upon diagnosis and treatment of eye problems, the best remedy, for now, is maintaining annual eye exams and using the standard guidance and care steps in taking care of your eyes. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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