Some of you may have heard the eyes described as “the windows to the soul” or heard a healthy, active person described as “bright-eyed” but how many of us actually understand just how closely tied those two phrases really are? In fact, doctors are recognizing more and more just how significant a role the eyes can play in diagnosing health. An eye exam can do more than just determine whether or not you need glasses. It can give doctors insight into some of the most important health considerations of our day. At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. William Segal and Dr. Mark Lay conduct comprehensive eye examinations designed to diagnose any eye or vision problems patients may experience.
Just looking at the outer surface of the eye can be informative. Bulging eyes (medically known as exophthalmos) can be one of the most obvious signs of an overactive thyroid (Grave’s Disease) while drooping eyelids, along with pupils that aren’t the same size, can be an indication of tumors in the neck area and possible aneurysms. If the eyelids’ inner surface is inflamed and red, it could be a sign of an infection like Chlamydia, which mimics the symptoms of the more common conjunctivitis (or pink eye). Similarly, herpes can cause lesions to appear on the surface of the eye, as can some forms of skin cancer and a rare genetic disorder called Gardner syndrome that can cause polyps in the colon. A gray ring around the cornea can be a sign of high cholesterol, while jaundice, a common indicator of liver disease, makes the whites of the eyes appear yellow. Finally, eyes that leak yellowish fluids may be an indicator of diabetes.
Since the vitreous fluid is clear, an experienced eye doctor can look through the opening in the iris and see the blood vessels at the back of the retina quite easily. An examination with an ophthalmoscope, as part of the general exam, allows Dr. Segal and Dr. Lay to see the operation of blood vessels as they work, something that would generally require much more expensive testing with complex imaging equipment. These blood vessels are exposed to the same cholesterol level, sugar level, blood pressure, exercise and smoking as the rest of the body, and so can manifest the effects of those things quite clearly. Healthy blood vessels tend to take as straight a path as possible, however vessels with bends and kinks suggest the patient may be experiencing hypertension.
In all cases, Dr. Segal and Dr. Lay can fully recognize and diagnose these conditions, and always emphasize to patients that regular exams are important. If you have questions about diseases of the eye, or would like to schedule an appointment for an eye exam, please contact us today to make an appointment. Be sure to follow Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips for healthy eyes.