Systemic diseases are disease that involve many organs or the whole body. Many of these diseases also affect the eyes. In fact, an eye exam sometimes leads to the first diagnosis of a systemic disease. Being that the eye is composed of many different types of tissue, this makes the eye susceptible to many varieties of disease. It can also provide important insight into many of the body’s systems such as those involving the circulatory system, connective tissue, and endocrine system. The eye is the only organ in the body in which a doctor can directly see blood vessels.
There are a number of diseases that can involve the eye. Just a few among them are: diabetes, Grave’s disease, lupus, high blood pressure, and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses can cause everything from dry eyes and cataracts to more severe issues such as glaucoma and retinal bleeding. In many cases, a thorough ophthalmic exam can detect early signs of these ailments which might otherwise go either undiagnosed or not be found until irreparable damage has been done to the body.
In addition to these diseases causing eye problems, a number of the medications used to treat them can also harm the eye. For example, steroids such as Prednisone, which is used to treat a number of conditions, can lead to glaucoma or hasten the development of cataracts. Drugs used to help manage diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause corneal and retinal issues.
The best way to ensure the health of your eyes is not being compromised by any systemic disease or medication is to undergo a complete eye evaluation annually by a skilled ophthalmologist. Dr. Shanbom has the rare combination of board certification in both internal medicine and ophthalmology, meaning he is extensively trained in identifying both systemic and ophthalmic diseases.
If you are concerned about the effects any systemic illness or medication may be having on your eyes, please contact us at Shanbom Eye Specialist and make an appointment to have your eye health evaluated today.