When optometrists conduct eye exams, they get a close-up of the back of the eye, known as the retina. Observing blood vessels and nerves this close may reveal early stages of medical issues you may not think to associate with eyes and eye health, but are in fact very relevant to eyes. Here are examples of some health problems an eye exam may indicate.

1) High Blood Pressure: Damaged blood vessels in the retina may be a sign of heart disease. Normal vessels curve gradually. But someone with high blood pressure may have vessels that show more distinct bends and changes in shape. Another potential sign is when vessels have a slightly silver color versus normal red.

2) Diabetes: An early sign of diabetes can be a tiny amount of bleeding in the retina. The clinical term for this is diabetic retinopathy. Catching diabetes at this early stage may make a huge impact because it’s still easy to reverse with lifestyle changes. Monitoring blood sugar levels and eating a healthy diet can limit the chance of future declines in both vision and overall health when it comes to diabetes.

3) Aneurysm: An optometrist could potentially see an aneurysm forming, which is a bubble in the wall of a blood vessel. When this wall  starts to leak or rupture–that’s an aneurysm.

4) High Cholesterol: A yellow ring around the cornea that shows up during an eye exam may be a sign of high cholesterol. Sometimes, a plaque caused by cholesterol can be visible within a retinal blood vessel.

5) Stroke: Blood vessels of the retina can sometimes clot. If the clot remains, it may be a sign of an increased risk for a stroke.

Do you have any concerns about your vision or general health? Here at Bauer and Clausen, your vision is our priority. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 406-656-8886.