Many people think of the eye as an isolated organ. Often, an initial reaction is to assume glasses need to be updated when trouble seeing arises. I agree this is a good place to start; however, numerous health concerns can negatively impact vision. This article will touch on several systemic (bodily) conditions that can affect your eye health and, therefore, your vision.
Diabetes…this is the big one. The three main concerns with diabetes are largely thought to be issues with the eyes, kidneys, and peripheral nerves. I like to tell my patients that they are too sweet; that is why you are diabetic.
Considering diabetes is a condition of elevated sugars in one’s body and a compromised endocrine system, I find this comment to add some fun to the conversation. Diabetes is a big concern with eye health, as it causes a tremendous amount of vision loss in the current population. Vessels in the eye become weakened from diabetes, causing bleeding in the inner eye, leading to vision loss. Often, blood sugar control with your primary doctor is the best way to control this. However, when the damage becomes more profound, injectable, surgical, and laser options may need to be discussed. It is essential to get an annual eye exam when dealing with diabetes.
Blood pressure is another hot topic in primary care facilities. It can also lead to strain on the vessels in the inner eye and lead to vision loss. Many pharmaceuticals have been shown to control blood pressure reliably.
Two other recommendations that you will inevitably hear from your health care providers are diet and exercise. These are time-tested methods to control blood pressure and other concerns as well. Please follow your doctor’s recommendations for blood pressure control, and we will monitor your eye health with respect to this condition.
Optic neuritis and optic neuropathy are two broad categories of conditions that affect the eye’s optic nerve. If you say optic neuritis to almost any eye doctor, the first thing out of their mouth would likely be multiple sclerosis (MS). MS can cause an inflammatory issue of the optic nerve that can usually cause temporary vision loss. It is a condition that should be considered when optic neuritis is observed during an exam. Optic neuropathy is thought to result from blood flow issues to the eye and can result from glaucoma, blood pressure, diabetes, giant cell arteritis, and sleep apnea.
Lastly, and probably the most common condition, is dryness of the eyes. Dry Eyes can be attributed to environmental circumstances but can also be attributed to many systemic manifestations. Thyroid disorders, antihistamines (allergy), antidepressants, sleep apnea, antihypertensives, and autoimmune conditions can all lead to dry eye problems. There are many ways to treat dry eye conditions, and we at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida are happy to discuss them with you, as well as any other concerns of the eye. Call us at 800-282-3937 or visit any of our 8 locations to schedule an appointment for your eye care.
Dustin Dixon is an optometrist at the Lakeland-Harden location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. He specializes in routine eye exams and difficult-to-fit specialty contact lenses and is accepting new patients.