What Can An Eye Exam Detect? 11 Common Problems

What Can An Eye Exam Detect? 11 Common Problems

Are you having trouble with dry eyes? When this becomes a constant problem, it’s a good idea to schedule an eye exam. These exams can help you detect a lot of problems that could get worse without treatment.

This short guide will teach you about some of the disorders that can be detected by an optometrist during a routine exam.

Disorders That Can Be Detected by an Eye Exam

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Lupus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Thyroid Disease


Cancers can develop anywhere in the body, including the eyes. Even cancers that are not centered around the eyes may leave marks of evidence when the eye is examined. 

Signs of blood, tissue, and skin cancers can be detected during routine eye exams. For example, skin cancer patches may occur on the eyelids. Several cancers, including Leukemia, can affect the eyes directly.


Diabetes can be detected through a standard eye exam. The symptoms of diabetes can go unnoticed for years. Scheduling an annual eye exam can give you a chance of detecting diabetes early.

Diabetes can change the look of the blood vessels in the eyes. Small spots of blood may appear near the vessels when diabetes is present.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common but deadly problem. Like some other disorders on this list, this one can easily go undetected for years. It is also a known risk factor for many eye-related disorders such as glaucoma.

Pressure can cause changes in the appearance of veins. Veins are easily visible in the eyes, so an optometrist can be the first to detect any abnormalities.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a dangerous condition that can lead to strokes if it is not treated properly. Many people have high cholesterol without knowing it. Early detection can be essential to preventing the most catastrophic events.

Eye exams can detect some of the symptoms of high cholesterol. For example, this condition can cause yellow rings to form around the cornea.


Lupus is an inflammatory disease that can affect all parts of your daily life. It may cause extreme fatigue, rashes, and persistent fevers. It is most often identified by these symptoms, but in mild cases, may go unnoticed until an eye exam. 

Several conditions that affect your eyes may also be symptoms of Lupus. For example, your eye doctor may detect Lupus while examining issues such as dry eyes, or swelling. These are both common symptoms of the disease.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can cause inflammation throughout the body. It is usually diagnosed because of extreme fatigue. However, it can go undiagnosed until the symptoms become visible in the eyes.

The inflammation that this disease is known for can show up in the optic nerves. It can also cause swelling in other parts of the eye. All of these signs can be detected in an eye exam.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that can cause significant damage to the nervous system. This disease is typically caught because of symptoms such as numbness and pain, or balance problems.

This disease can be detected in an eye exam. You may have scheduled the eye exam in the first place because of the noticeable vision symptoms. Sufferers of multiple sclerosis may experience pain around the eyes and blurred vision.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It is caused when your immune system starts attacking healthy tissue. It is not entirely understood why this condition develops. It may develop later in life. 

This disease is often first diagnosed during eye exams because of the extreme effect it can have on the eyes. The symptoms include dry eyes, red eyes, and severe pain. The eye symptoms can require medical treatment.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually-transmitted diseases have a wide range of symptoms. Some of them can affect your vision. While having vision symptoms assessed at an eye doctor, you may discover that you have:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • HIV
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease is a complex disease that can express itself in many different ways. It occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much or too little hormones. It’s often marked by early symptoms that include weight changes, mood swings, and skin problems.

This disease has several symptoms that are likely to be noticed during an eye exam. For example, it can cause protruding eyeballs. It can also cause your eyelids to contract. You may also experience blurry vision and dry eyes.

Detect Health Problems With Eye Exams

Scheduling an eye exam can be an effective way to spot diseases that can be very dangerous to your health in the long run. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol may be first identified in eye exams.  

Many eye problems share symptoms with serious conditions. However, that does not mean that all symptoms point to serious conditions. You may simply have normal periodic bouts of dry eyes, itchy eyes, or redness.


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