How Your Eye Exam Can Reveal Internal Diseases


Not only can your ophthalmology services provider diagnose eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, but he or she may also be able to diagnose certain systemic diseases. If your ophthalmology specialist discovers any of the following abnormalities during your eye examination, he or she will refer you back to your primary care physician for further testing and treatment.

Conjunctival Pallor

When you pull down your lower eyelid and look at the conjunctival sac, it should appear pink. If it looks pale, white, or like the color of your skin, it may mean that you have anemia. If your red blood cell count, iron levels, hematocrit, or hemoglobin are low, adding more iron-rich foods may help. Iron supplements can also help resolve anemia; however, before your physician recommends a treatment, the underlying cause of your anemia needs to be determined.

If you have conjunctival pallor, your eye doctor may ask you if you take aspirin or prescription anticoagulants or if you get enough iron in your diet. Aspirin and anticoagulants can cause internal bleeding, which can result in anemia. After anemia has been effectively treated, your conjunctival pallor will resolve. Other symptoms of anemia such as facial pallor, a fast heart rate, shortness of breath, and dizziness will also go away after getting treated for anemia.

Scleral Yellowing

During your eye examination, your doctor will look at your sclera, or the white part of your eye. If he or she notices scleral yellowing, it may mean that you are jaundiced. In addition to yellowing of the whites of your eyes, jaundice can also cause yellowing of your skin, itching, and yellow mucous membranes inside your mouth. Jaundice often occurs as a result of liver disease; however, it can also indicate the presence of gallbladder disease, anemia, or diabetes.

If ocular jaundice is present, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will also examine your retina to see if your retinal blood vessels appear normal. Diabetics, especially diabetics with poorly managed or long-standing disease, may develop an eye disease known as diabetic retinopathy, which can cause visual deficits and sometimes total blindness. 

If you want more information on how eye examinations can reveal systemic illnesses, make an appointment with an eye doctor at a clinic like Idaho Eye and Laser Center. In addition to anemia, liver disease, and diabetes, eye examinations may also reveal other illnesses such as brain disorders, thyroid disorders such as Grave's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, and even lupus. 


15 January 2020

Vision and Learning

Vision problems can be sneaky. When my daughter started having trouble in school, nobody thought that the problem could be with her vision. She wasn't complaining about not being able to see ; she was acting out instead. Plus, she could read the eye chart. It took a lot of trial and error to realize that while she could see, her eyes weren't working together correctly. She needed vision therapy to get herself back on track. I started this blog to share information with other concerned parents about how vision affects learning. Don't let a vision problem sneak by you and impact your child's education.