How An Eye Exam Can Save Your Life
MAJOR KUDOS to my friend Dr. Charles Boulet on this one!! The article below, which was written by Dr. Boulet appeared today in the Gateway Gazette, shows once again how amazing it is to be part of such a wonderful profession! Way to go!!
The original article can be found here.
Written By: Dr. Charles Boulet
‘The eyes are the window to the soul.’ We’ve all heard this, and perhaps other stories about how the eyes reveal intimate details about us. There is a great deal of truth to this, especially regarding your general health.
In this case, the patient came into clinic for a follow up to something unrelated but that required that we dilated the pupils to have a look inside the eye. This is what we saw:
Most of what you see here is ‘normal’. On the right, there is the large white spot which is the ‘optic nerve‘, and to the left of that is a dark spot called the ‘macula‘. There are obviously blood vessels present, mostly coming out of and returning back into the optic nerve. The ‘bump’ you see on the top right edge is not a bump in the eye proper, but a simple marker from the photograph that tells us the image is properly rotated.
The macula in this case is not 100% healthy (the reason for our appointment to begin with), but what was remarkable was the very small white spot along the artery immediately up and to the left of the macula. This is called a ‘Hollenhorst Plaque‘, a small and subtle sign of impending trouble such as heart attack and stroke.
Without going into too much detail, it suffices to say that such small emboli can have a major impact on health when they block critical blood flow leading to tissue death. In this case, we are looking at very small vessels, thin like a strand of hair. The brain, the kidneys, and other parts of the body are filled with such small vessels. Blockage of such small vessels in the brain can and will lead to stroke, while similar blockages in the heart can and will lead to heart attacks.
If you have not had an eye exam in more than a year and you are over 40, it’s a good idea to have a look at the entire vision system: Eyes and visual function. There are many reasons beyond ‘clear eyesight’ to do so.