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What Eye Exams Can Tell You About Your Overall Health

04/15/2014 03:28 EDT | Updated 04/15/2014 03:59 EDT
Alain Daussin via Getty Images

Imagine walking into an eye clinic for a routine eye exam and walking out with a completely unexpected diagnosis.

People usually visit their eye doctor for eyeglass prescriptions or common eye health conditions like strained eyes or eye fatigue. But often, an eye doctor can also catch other health problems for which you may not even know you had symptoms.

"Your eyes are a window into your overall health," says Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, an ophthalmologist based in Beverly Hills. "It’s important to get your eyes checked even if you don’t think you have vision problems."

While eye exams seem like something only seniors do, Web MD recommends adults should get a full eye exam at least once every two years. However, if you have eye-related health conditions in your family history, schedule an appointment at least once a year.

Boxer Wachler says conditions like skin cancers and high cholesterol can all be detected through the retinas and eyelids, along with serious eye conditions like glaucoma (damage to your eye's optic nerve), blindness and cataracts (the clouding of our lens).

In most places in Canada, eye exams are not covered by Medicare for those over 18 years of age and under 65 years of age, but they are easily accessible. Eye exams usually last between an hour and an hour and a half, and can be done at eye clinics at private practices or public places like Walmart. Starting at $50, eye tests look at everything from muscle movement to your ability to read an eye chart.

Here are 14 health problems Boxer Wachler says an eye doctor can catch — even if you don't feel or see any symptoms beforehand:

Health Problems Your Doctor Can See First