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Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center in Nashville, TN explains why eye exams provide clues to heart and blood vessel health. “During a comprehensive eye exam, Optometrists or Ophthalmologists are able to identify heart related diseases before symptoms appear,” says Dr. Shofner. Heart Awareness Month is an appropriate time to learn more about how a comprehensive eye exam can help prevent serious heart events.
Eyes and Heart Connection
During a thorough eye examination; an eye doctor can view small changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye, which can also predict a more serious systemic disease including high blood pressure, stroke or heart failure. Using advanced digital retinal imaging, eye doctors can detect and monitor blood flow in the retina.
Affecting almost 65 million people, high blood pressure (hypertension) is known as a “silent” disease as many don’t experience any symptoms. During a comprehensive eye examination, an eye doctor will check for subtle changes in the retina resulting from high blood pressure, also known as hypertensive retinopathy. Changes may include narrowing of the small blood vessels in the retina, arteries pressing down on veins and flame-shaped haemorrhages, among other complications. If these changes are detected, it’s imperative that a patient contacts their primary care physician to receive appropriate and timely treatment.
Vision loss may occur when blood obstructs the retina, the eye is deprived of sufficient oxygen or the macula swells. Once the central retinal vein becomes blocked, significant vision loss may occur. Artery and blood vessel obstruction in the retina can be temporary or permanent and can also cause vision loss when a blockage disrupts blood flow in the eye. More specifically, Transient monocular vision loss (TMVL) is an important warning sign that should not be ignored because this complaint may predict risk for a major cardiovascular event.
Promoting Healthy Vision, Healthy Heart
Most everyone is aware that a healthy diet and lifestyle will improve one’s overall health. Researchers show that the following risk factors link heart health with vision health and they include: smoking, obesity and high cholesterol.
Exercising and eating a heart healthy diet rich in omega-3s, antioxidants and soluble fiber will help improve both heart and eye health. It’s recommended to consult with a primary care physician before beginning any exercise or diet program. Don’t forget to visit your eye doctor annually or as recommended by your eye care professional.
According to the Department of Health, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee. Together, heart disease and stroke account for 1 out of 3 deaths in Tennessee each year. “It is imperative to help raise Heart Health Awareness, as well as the importance of regular eye exams,” says Dr. Shofner. Eye exams not only help prevent vision loss but also potentially save lives.
About Dr. Shofner
Recognized by his peers as one of the most outstanding Board Certified Ophthalmologist in the United States, Dr. Stewart Shofner has performed over 30,000 LASIK procedures and 10,000 ocular surgeries and his business continues to grow…mostly from patient referrals. Dr. Shofner has outstanding credentials to deliver the best care and surgical outcomes for patients.
About Shofner Vision Center
Shofner Vision Center provides comprehensive vision care services including LASIK/PRK vision correction, cataract surgery and eye disease diagnosis and treatment. Shofner Vision Center utilizes the most advanced, proven technology to deliver the best solutions safely and reliably. Patients can schedule appointments online or call 615-340-4733.