March 01, 2018

3 major health issues your eyes can indicate

It's often said that the eyes are the window to the soul... but eye care professionals would say your eyes are a window to your overall health. An eye doctor can tell a lot about the health of your body from looking in your eyes and can even see signs of a number of serious health issues.

Americans are more likely to see their eye care professional for an eye exam than their general healthcare provider for a physical, so eye doctors may be the first health professional to detect several serious conditions.

Early disease detection through an eye exam can lead to prevention or earlier treatment to help reduce medical costs and productivity loss down the road.

The following are three major health issues that can be detected by an eye exam:

#1: Pre-Diabetes – According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 86 million people in the United States who have pre-diabetes. This condition occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to for a diabetes diagnosis. The good news is that people with pre-diabetes can take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes. Since blurred vision is one of the first signs of diabetes, your eye doctor may be the first health professional to see you while you’re still in the “pre-diabetic” state.

#2: Undiagnosed Diabetes – Of the 29.1 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, 27.8 percent are undiagnosed, according to the CDC. Diabetes is a serious disease that occurs when your body cannot produce enough insulin – resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood. People who are diagnosed can more easily get their diabetes under control and save money on medical expenses. Those individuals with this disease should see their eye doctor regularly to keep tabs on eye health issues that can be caused or worsened by the disease, including diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

Better managing diabetes can lower healthcare costs by a minimum of $804 per person per year, according to a study published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. In addition, better managing the disease can help employees avoid extreme productivity issues that could lead to job loss -- thereby avoiding the cost of unemployment associated with the disease.

#3: Undiagnosed High Blood Pressure – Approximately one in five people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Without intervention, high blood pressure – also known as hypertension -- can have a serious impact on many areas of the body and can lead to hefty medical costs. Hypertension (with its complications of stroke and heart attack) accounts for Americans losing 52 million workdays each year, according to the National Hypertension Association. Among its effects on the eye, hypertension can lead to bleeding, blurred vision, hypertensive retinopathy and even blindness.

NYSUT Member Benefits endorses a quality voluntary Vision Plan that provides a complete eye exam and one pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses per benefit period. To learn more about eligibility, view frames, find participating providers and more, click here or call 800-626-8101.

Special thanks to Davis Vision for providing the content for this article.