The eye is the only place on the body where veins and arteries can be seen without advanced imaging. The appearance and quality of these blood vessels can give a lot of clues as to the health of the cardiovascular and other critical systems of the body.

A dilated eye exam includes the evaluation of this as well as every other aspect of the eye. Because of this, an eye exam can be thought of one of many proactive measures to monitor the health of not just the eyes, but the body as well.

High blood pressure, cholesterol, poor lifestyle habits and a family history of stroke, heart attack or heart disease can negatively affect the arteries in your body and your eyes. With these influences we can see the arteries shrink and harden over time.

If the condition of the vessels becomes advanced, they can fail causing bleeding, swelling and vision loss. Problems with larger blood vessels in the head and neck produce unique eye and vision symptoms that eye doctors are trained to associate with medical conditions so that further diagnosis and treatment can be initiated.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

Load comments