How Eye Tests help detect other diseases

Aug 06, 2014 in Eye Tests

How Eye Tests help detect other diseases

Did you know that one in five Britons have had a health problem (not related to the eyes) diagnosed through a routine eye test? Yes, a simple eye test can potentially save your life from myriad life-threatening health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, tumours and several neurological disorders. Here’s how an eye exam can detect various diseases.

Cardiovascular Diseases

High blood pressure is often the precursor to coronary heart diseases, stroke and heart attacks. In the early stages it can cause a white ring to appear around the outer surface of the eye, or the cornea. High blood pressure can also cause the blood vessels at the back of the eye to explode. An eye exam can spot all of these changes and your optometrist can refer you to the GP for preventive treatment.


The onset of diabetes can also be detected by an eye test. Diabetes can damage the retina and also cause vision loss. It can cause leakage of blood at the back of the eye and also lead to changes to the blood vessels in the eye; the delicate blood vessels can actually grow abnormally on to the retina itself. All of these symptoms can be detected in an eye test and nearly 90% of diabetes-related blindness can be prevented by an annual eye exam.

Tumours and Cancer

In the UK alone 16,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumour every year, according to Brain Tumour UK. Up to 30% of these tumours can be detected at an early stage through an eye test. Brain tumours can cause the optic nerve to swell and it can also appear large and pale. Also tumours can cause loss of vision and headaches. If detected early, the tumour can be arrested before it spreads and damages brain tissue. This can improve the survival rate of affected persons. Elder people above the age of 60 are more at risk and an annual eye test and health check-up can help immensely in early detection. Bleeding at the back of the eye can also be a sign of cancer and an eye exam can detect it early so that treatment can commence.

Neurological Disorders

Several disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be diagnosed with an eye test that measures eye movement while watching television. Early diagnosis of autism in children is the key to providing appropriate therapy. Similarly, testing for Parkinson’s is helpful for at-risk people so that treatments and lifestyle alterations can be implemented at an early stage. Especially in the case of Parkinson’s, the most tell-tale sign of shaking limbs surfaces several years after the disease takes hold. The eye test works by looking for a tremor behind the eyes, which is a good indicator of possibility of the disease rearing its head at a later date. Another neurological disorder, multiple sclerosis can cause swelling of the optic nerve. In an eye test this would typically appear as abnormally large and pale. An overactive thyroid gland can also result in abnormal bulging of the cornea. All of these warning signals can be picked up in an eye exam.

So make an eye test an integral part of your general health check-up. Click here to book an eye test online with Leightons Opticians. It takes just 30 minutes and it could very well save your life. As they say, prevention is better than cure.