Four Medical Conditions Your Eye Doctor Can Help Diagnose

For most people, a trip to the eye doctor is to get a prescription for glasses or contacts. In reality, your eye doctor can be just as helpful as any other type of physician when it comes to diagnosing diseases and disorders. Even if you don't wear corrective lenses, you should consider regular eye checkups as part of your overall health routine. Here are just some of the many medical conditions your eye doctor can help to diagnose.

Autoimmune Diseases

Inflammation of the eyes, accompanied with redness and excessive tears, can be indicative of an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Catching these disorders as early as possible, particularly because disorders like lupus can cause macular degeneration, which can lead to the loss of vision. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes should arrange for regular appointments with their eye doctor to rule out diabetic retinopathy. This disorder causes abnormal growth of the eye's blood vessels, and can lead to serious complications without treatment. These complications include glaucoma, blindness, and retinal detachment. The initial screening for this disorder is relatively simple, and requires only that the physician dilate your eyes before the examination. Your eye doctor will then look for symptoms including cataracts, abnormal blood vessels, and retinal detachment. Abnormal blood vessels can also be a sign of diabetes, so your eye doctor may be able to spot the disorder even before you know you have it.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is easily diagnosed during an eye exam. If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause eye disease in addition to many other medical conditions. Your eye doctor will look for signs of hypertensive retinopathy during your exam. These symptoms include bleeding at the back of the eye, swelling in the center of the retina, and narrowing of the blood vessels, among other signs. If you find that you do have hypertension and hypertensive retinopathy, the best treatment is monitoring and maintaining your blood pressure. Your family physician can help you with keeping your hypertension in check.


Allergy sufferers typically exhibit some symptoms in their eyes. Itchy, red, and watery eyes are telltale symptoms of allergies. If you have these symptoms regularly, be sure to see your eye doctor to rule out any other issues. If your eye care professional determines that your issues are caused by allergies, you can then follow up with your primary care doctor or an allergist for diagnosing and treating your specific allergies.

Regular visits to the eye doctor are important for more than just maintaining eye health. A good optometrist or ophthalmologist will be able to spot symptoms of serious diseases and disorders as part of a routing exam, making it easier for you to manage your health. For more information, visit websites like