One of the most effective ways of learning about your overall health is by undergoing regular eye exams. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but for an ophthalmologist, the eyes offers insight to our overall health.
"During an eye exam, I look at the blood vessels in the back of the eye and the state of those blood vessels. It tells me what the blood vessels are doing in other organs of the body like the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver, etc.," says Dr. Robert Cykiert of NYU Langone Medical Center.
Cykiert says it's your eye doctor that may be the one to discover a serious problem before symptoms arise.
For example, six years ago, Gloria Lapin went in for a routine eye exam and was quickly rushed to the emergency room with a life-threatening issue.
"The doctor discovered flaking from my carotid artery, which was circulating dangerously close to areas of the brain which might cause a stroke," Lapin says. "He recommended that we go immediately to the hospital. We did so, and surgery was done the following day and was highly successful."
It was a similar situation for "Tom W.," another patient. During an eye exam, Dr. Cykiert suspected he had a tumor on his brain. He was right, and he's now undergoing treatment.
"Basically, my life has been saved," "Tom W." says. "If I didn't go through this diagnosis, I might not be here right now.
Cykiert says tumors and strokes are just a few of the things that can be detected during an eye exam.
"There are many diseases and conditions that can be picked up from an eye exam," he says. "For example: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Occasionally, I'll pick up brain tumors, I'll pick up leukemia, I've picked up infections in the blood, all from an eye exam."
Most people don't get their eyes checked unless they notice a change in their vision, but Cykiert says if you are under 40, you should have your eyes checked every other year, and once you turn 40, you should schedule an annual exam.
So if you haven't been for an exam, now may be a good time to schedule one, because with one look, the eye doctor may help you see your overall health more clearly.