How a routine eye exam could save your life

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they can also serve as windows to your overall health.

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 1:39 p.m.

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they can also serve as windows to your overall health. In fact, ophthalmologists can detect diseases and conditions beyond those that are directly eye-related during a thorough eye health examination. Your routine eye care can be not only sight-saving, but life-saving, as well.


A skilled eye doctor will routinely widen the pupil during your examination using special drops to dilate the eyes, according to Hayley Boling, chief executive officer of Boling Vision Center and INSIGHT Surgery Center. This particular segment of the examination allows the doctor to see the back of eye, where the earliest signs of certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, would begin to show.

However, ophthalmologists have also discovered underlying conditions including diabetes, vasculitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, tumors and cancer during comprehensive eye exams.

“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for our doctors to uncover melanoma of the eye, brain tumors, Multiple sclerosis and other devastating diseases,” Boling said.

If a non-eye-related condition is found during an eye exam, your eye doctor will refer you to your primary care physician or the appropriate specialist for further review or to begin necessary treatment. “This is one of the toughest parts of our jobs, particularly when the uncovered condition is potentially lifethreatening,” Boling said.

One patient, a mutual guest of Boling Vision Center and Church Community Services, received a routine eye health examination, but doctors diagnosed a life-threatening brain tumor, Boling said. The center helped coordinate the appropriate care for the patient, who was then able to receive the necessary treatments.


Not all eye exams are created equal, and you could be unknowingly receiving subpar eye care. Indiana, in particular, is a non-licensed state, meaning that Indiana does not require formal training, education or certifications for some professionals in the field.

“The only way to prevent and preserve your precious sense of sight is to prioritize eye health examinations by doctors you can trust,” Boling said.

Annual eye health exams are recommended for all ages, including most children, but factors such as age, ethnicity, medical history, family history, social history, occupation and findings in the last eye exam may call for more frequent check-ups.

Many people consider eye care as a secondary priority, despite an almost universal fear of losing one’s vision, Boling said. A thorough eye health examination not only provides the best chances of avoiding permanent blindness, but is also an essential part of your overall preventative health care.

This article is brought to you by Boling Vision Center. Boling Vision Center is a three-generation eye care practice that has served the Elkhart, Goshen and surrounding areas for 54 years. Boling Vision Center partners with local charities to provide access to quality vision care for area residents who are uninsured and fall within federal poverty guidelines.

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