When you make an appointment with your eye doctor, you probably think it’s just to get a routine eye exam in order to see if you need glasses. The truth is, that may very well be the reason you made the appointment in the first place. That said, you can bet that your eye doctor is looking for subtle signs that there are things happening in your body that could potentially indicate disease. Granted, he or she is looking specifically at the overall health of your eyes. However, there is also a great deal of information that can be told about your physical health in a more general sense. Here are six diseases that your eye doctor may discover before anyone else does.

  • 1. Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is a debilitating and painful condition that can do a great deal of damage to the joints in your body. In some of the worst cases, patients are relegated to using a wheelchair because they can no longer walk. RA can also rob you of the use of your hands as it distorts your joints and makes it too painful to move. Believe it or not, your eye doctor may be able to see the first hint of RA long before your physician, thanks in large part to two major eye issues that are commonly associated with the disease. These include inflammation of the iris and dry eyes. Anyone who sees their eye doctor with either of these symptoms could potentially have RA.

  • 2. Multiple Sclerosis

This is another potentially debilitating disease that can attack the muscles and cause them to atrophy, or weaken, to the point that they are no longer effective. There is a direct connection between the onset of some MS cases and an inflamed optic nerve. Therefore, eye doctors who see patients with this condition often trace it back to the presence of MS.

  • 3. High Blood Pressure

Consistently high blood pressure damages the blood vessels throughout the body. Eye doctors who examine the retina at the back of the eye can easily see this damage, often prompting them to inquire about the patient’s other medical history. Since many people have no idea they have high blood pressure until they suffer a medical emergency, this can be potentially life-saving information.

  • 4. Diabetes

When left unchecked, diabetes can cause a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It’s a technical term that refers to bleeding around the retina. If left untreated, the condition can cause patients to lose their sight. The surprising thing is that many of them aren’t even aware they have diabetes until it’s discovered by their eye doctor.

  • 5. Cancer

There are some cancers that can be easily seen when your eye doctor checks the health of your retina. In addition, some forms of the disease cause specific symptoms related to vision. As such, your eye doctor may be able to diagnose a brain tumor before anyone else.

  • 6. Heart Disease

Just like those who suffer from high blood pressure, patients with heart disease often have poor blood circulation. This is something that shows up when your eye doctor checks on the condition of your retina and its associated blood vessels.

As you can see, going to the eye doctor can save more than just your vision. It may even save your life.