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Four Fatal Diseases That That Your Optometrist Can Detect During Your Eye Exam.

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

You go to the Optometrist to get a new glasses prescription.

At the end of your eye exam, the eye doctor gives you a prescription but then informs you that you could have a fatal condition and it needs immediate attention.

Umm... what'd you say doc?

"I can give you your prescription, but I see signs of something much more serious. We have to get this evaluated as soon as possible."

Yikes! You just wanted to update your prescription.

Aside from trying to bare the news, suddenly you realize there's a lot more involved when you go in your eye exam.

But can a routine eye exam really reveal deadly diseases?

Yes! Our Optometrist in Bellingham, Dr. Peter Charron has experience diagnosing a variety of malignant conditions that may be revealed during an eye exam.


1) Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)

I've had patients over the years come in for an eye exam and tell me they noticed their "vision changed" in one eye over the last few days. Based on the type of vision loss they had, it was revealed to be a stroke in the occipital lobe of the brain.

Usually these are cases where the eye doctor may be able to determine a stroke that has already happened and refer you to your PCP or emergency care as needed.

2) 'Malignant' Hypertension

Malignant Hypertension is blood pressure marked higher than 180/120 and is sometimes a result of organ damage. It needs to be treated right away by your doctor, but it can be detected during an eye examination. After dilating the eyes, your eye doctor may note a distinct pattern of fluid leakage and swelling that can indicate the blood pressure is at deadly levels.

3) Ocular Cancers

Many cancers in the eyes are benign but some can metastasize, leading to death. From Retinoblastoma in children, to Choroidal Melanomas and eyelid growths like squamous cell carcinoma, ask you Optometrist or Ophthalmologist if these type of problems are routinely screened for during a dilated eye exam.

4) Brain Tumors

There are tumors that occur in various parts of the brain which will often reveal distinct vision problems. For example - a pituitary tumor (while benign) can cause a pattern of peripheral vision loss called "bitemporal hemianopsia." Other tumors which can lead to distinct visual or eye problems include tumors round the brainstem, orbit of the eyes, and cerebellum. Many will cause double vision, loss of eyesight that is gradual or abrupt.

Have you known anyone who's deadly disease has been detected through their eye exam?

If so, feel free to share in the comments section!

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