Systemic Medical Diseases
Systemic medical diseases are diseases that involve one or multiple organs of the body. Many of these diseases can also affect the eyes. Some of these diseases include Diabetes, Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries that leads to poor circulation), Hypertension, Thyroid disease (Grave’s), AIDS, Leukemia, Anemia, Sarcoidosis, Collagen Vascular diseases (eg. Systemic Lupus erythematosus), Sickle cell disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Benign Intracranial Hypertension (Pseudotumor cerebri), Brain tumors.
The eye is the only organ in the body in which your physician can directly see blood vessels. Because of this, routine eye exams can lead to the initial diagnosis of systemic diseases. Eye exams are also important in monitoring the effects of these systemic diseases on ocular and visual health as well as on other organs. For any of these medical conditions, localized ocular or systemic treatment may be necessary. With your permission, your ophthalmic findings correlating with systemic medical diseases will be communicated with your primary care physician.
Systemic medical therapy prescribed for some of these conditions may also potentially affect ocular health and patients are encouraged to have regular eye exams to monitor for development of these side effects. A few examples are Rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus patients developing retinal toxicity from Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and Multiple Sclerosis patients developing macular edema on Fingolimod (Gilenya) therapy.