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Health Problems Optometrists Often Diagnose Before Your Doctor Does

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Here at Eye Effects, we’re committed to delivering quality eye care. While we’re certain that you visit your doctor regularly, did you know that there are many health problems which your optometrist can diagnose before the doctor can?
It’s common for your optometrist to diagnose a health problem in a routine examination, before referring you to a specialist for further testing. Optometrists can spot these illnesses in their infancy before other symptoms arise; such an early diagnosis could end up saving your life.
Let’s take a look through the window to the soul and learn about the health problems that optometrists can diagnose ahead of everyone else.


It’s a sad reality that there seems to be nowhere that cancer will not strike. Your eyes are no exception.


Subtle disturbance of vision can be the first warning signs of leukemia, a severe health condition that affects thousands of Canadians every single year. Subtle retinal bleeding can go unnoticed by the patient, but can be noticed during a routine eye examination.

Sun Exposure

Approximately one in ten people can have freckles in their eyes. Like with external freckles, unprotected exposure to UV can grow or change shape, develop mutations and possibly become cancerous.


An early indicator of diabetes can be a small amount of retinal bleeding, caused by problems with small blood vessels in the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy and can lead to blindness.

If diagnosed early by your optometrist, this ‘silent symptom’ will alert the patient to their illness, allowing them to make useful lifestyle changes (such as improved diet) nice and early, before symptoms worsen.

High Blood Pressure

Six million Canadians are affected by high blood pressure, with one in six of those affected unaware of the condition. As a health problem which is closely related to stroke and heart disease, it is critical that we start observing it early.

Fortunately, optometrists can diagnose this health problem by observing hypertensive retinopathy: thickened vessel walls, restricted blood flow to the retina and possible swelling or bleeding.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dry eye is a common health problem caused by arid or windy conditions. Usually not serious, it can also be an indicator of rheumatoid arthritis.

While this illness is usually noticed as a result of joint inflammation, ocular manifestations are not uncommon and their early recognition can play a huge role in diagnosing this disease early, before symptoms have become severe and painful.

How Often Should I Get Checked?

First thing’s first: you don’t have to rush out and see us today! However, we do recommend that those who are not experiencing any new vision problems should still schedule an appointment once every 12-24 months.

This check-up will inspect the general condition of your eyes as well as looking for signs of any disease. Much like with the dentist or doctor, check-ups are important and you shouldn’t wait until illness strikes to pay a visit.

Written by Dr. Rod Adams

Dr. Rod Adams is a graduate of the University of Alberta and the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry. Dr. Adams has been in private family practice since 1997. During this time, he has developed a strong interest in pediatric optometry and laser corrective surgery options.
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