Why is a Dilated Retinal Exam Important?

 Of all the places
in the body, the best place to see blood vessels is in the back of the eye.
When looking at vessels other places, they are covered with skin and fat, and
they better be, or you would bleed out. But in the back of the eye, they are on
the surface, and we have the best view of them. Why is this so important?
Because many diseases change or damage blood vessels, so the best place to see
the blood vessels would be the best place to see this damage, or change.
Each disease changes, or damages the vessels in different
ways. Diabetes can cause the vessels to bleed; usually the bleeds are small and
round. With high cholesterol, plaque will build up and this looks like a streak
on the vessel. High blood pressure can change the vessels where they cross or
give a vessel “the sausage effect”.
normal retina

diabetic retinal damage

HBP crossing damage
plaque, photo
Whatever changes,
or damage we see with the vessels in the back of the eye, gives us a ballpark
idea of what is happening in the rest of the body. If bleeding is seen in the
eye vessels due to the patient’s sugar, then the same bleeding would be seen in
the vessels throughout the body, you just can’t see it because the vessels are
covered with skin and fat, but the damage is still happening. But visa versa is
true, if a diabetic has no damage in the eye vessels, then the chances are good
the vessels in the rest of the body are damage free.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! I think you can
see why they say the eye is the window to the body. Also, I want to add, by
far, the best way to view and document the vessels in the eye is with the
Optomap retinal image scanner. Being able to visualize the retina (the back of
the eye) can lead to a wealth of information about overall health. 


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