Do You Know What An Eye Exam Can Reveal About Your Heart?

Valentine’s Day comes and goes, but there’s one sure way to honor your heart any time of the year. And even for all the chocolate and roses in the world, you probably wouldn’t guess that the way to your heart just might be an eye exam. does heart problems affect your eyes

But it’s true, a trip to your eye doctor doesn’t just reveal how strong your eyesight is. In fact, an eye exam can reveal important information about how healthy your heart may—or may not—be. On top of that, an eye exam can also provide clues about other medical conditions, such as blood clots, strokes, diabetes, or cancer.

This is because your eyes, specifically the interior and back of your eyes, are the one part of the human body where doctors can observe blood vessels. Any indications of damage to the blood vessels in your eyes provide information about what may be happening in other parts of your body.

For example, high blood pressure is one of the most important examples of what blood vessels in your eyes can reveal about the health of your heart. If you have high blood pressure, the vessels in your eyes might exhibit abnormalities such as tears, bends, or leaks.

While you might think that you’d know if you had high blood pressure and wouldn’t need an eye exam to tip you off, you might want to think again. According to the American Heart Association, almost 50% of American adults suffer from high blood pressure, but many don’t know they have it. High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it often lacks obvious symptoms. 

If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can be a significant contributing factor to a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, or other health problems. However, an eye exam can alert your eye doctor of any indications of high blood pressure, which might otherwise not have been detected. 

In fact, a new high blood pressure guideline provides a great opportunity for optometrists to have a heart-to-heart conversation with their patients about high blood pressure and its impact on their vision as well as possible overall health implications.

Other Health Issues Your Eyes Can Reveal

Examples of eye doctors detecting serious medical conditions, often when patients were experiencing no health symptoms or problems with their eyesight, are not rare. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a complete eye exam can save not just your vision, but also your life. 

One example is how a routine eye exam detected a major blood clot that was blocking 98% of a 73-year-old man’s carotid artery. The man seemed otherwise perfectly healthy and had no symptoms, but he would have most likely had a serious, if not fatal, stroke had the clot not been detected. 

So, your heart health and high blood pressure isn’t the only condition your eyes can reveal. An eye exam can provide indications of: 

  • Carotid artery disease, or blood clots
  • Risk of a stroke or heart attack
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Brain tumors
  • Thyroid disease
  • Autoimmune disorders

And of course, eye exams can also detect eye diseases that could lead to permanent vision loss or blindness, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. 

So, show your eyes, your heart, and your overall health some love by scheduling regular check-ups with your optometrist. Early detection of any medical condition or eye disease may be the key to not only saving your eyesight, but potentially your life. 

At Harden Valley Eyecare & Optical, we are passionate about not just your vision but your overall health as well. Our eye care professionals are dedicated to providing exceptional personal service to each and every person who walks through our door. Stop by our practice at 10904 Spring Bluff Way off Hardin Valley Road, call us at (865) 409-1253, or contact us to schedule an appointment.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Thompson was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. His family has lived in the Hardin Valley area since 1998, and he graduated from Karns High School in 2004. Dr. Thompson runs Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical alongside his wife, Dr. Catherine Abbott.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
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