Eye doctors are able to detect a number of serious diseases, and not only eye diseases, through examinations. They can identify diabetes, syphilis, multiple sclerosis, or even heart and kidney disease.
“The retina is the only place in the body where you can non-invasively see exposed blood vessels from the cell with just your eyes. And it is in the blood vessels that a number of diseases manifest. A finding on the iris or retina can indicate a serious infection, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, or syphilis. Diseases related to thyroid disorders or vascular diseases are also very often seen in the eyes,” said Pavel Stodůlka, a renowned eye surgeon and head of the Gemini Eye Clinic network.
Thanks to a detailed examination, the eye doctor can detect even diseases that develop without symptoms and without the patient noticing. Thus, the ophthalmologist can catch symptoms early and refer the patient to a specialist, who will initiate treatment and care.
People should become alert whenever they notice swelling in the eyelid. “Swelling is caused by the increased permeability of diseased blood vessels in the human body when fluid leaks from the blood vessels into the tissues and causes swelling. Common causes of swollen eyelids are allergies, thyroid disease, various eye infections, barley grains, herpetic infections, as well as heart or kidney disease,” said Pavel Stodůlka.
Early diagnosis is essential for all diseases. Therefore, people should not underestimate preventive examinations by an ophthalmologist. Often, it happens that people seek an ophthalmologist only when their vision is poor, and it may be too late. “A preventive examination after the age of 40 should focus mainly on intraocular pressure and optic nerve vitality to rule out glaucoma. Its onset is unnoticeable, painless, and thus very treacherous. The patient usually does not notice the problem until it is too late. It is practically the death of the optic nerve, the result of which is currently unfortunately incurable, but its onset can be stopped or at least slowed down with early diagnosis,” said Simona Št’astná, head of the České Budějovice Eye Clinic.
Regular check-ups should not only concern adults but also children. Children as young as three years old should be examined every two years as part of preventive check-ups. Adult patients aged 45 to 61 should visit an ophthalmologist once every four years. At 65, all drivers should have a detailed examination, which is repeated at 68 and every two years thereafter. Of course, if a person is at higher risk of developing eye disease or has a positive family history, it is recommended to have more frequent examinations, subject to the agreement of the ophthalmologist.