Eye Problems: Systemic Disease

A comprehensive eye examination is critical each year. The eye is an organ in the body and reacts to systemic disease. Actually the eye is the only window that allows us to view live blood vessels. Examining the arteries and veins in the eye select appropriate eye treatments based on the diagnosis of systemic diseases.


If you experience fluctuating vision and have poor sugar control it is possible that you have diabetes. Diabetes in the eye is a serious, sight-threatening condition. It can cause diabetic retinopathy such as bleeding and swelling which can lead to blindness.

When you have diabetes, Dr. Bender takes a detailed history regarding how long you have been diagnosed, medications you are taking, recent measured blood sugar levels, and the extent to which your condition is controlled.

Prescriptions may shift over weeks or even in a single day when a patient has diabetes. After testing your vision for a glasses prescription, Dr. Bender may ask you to return several weeks later to retest the vision before prescribing lenses. Furthermore, after prescribing glasses, Dr. Bender may follow up with a patient 3-6 months later to recheck the vision and eye health.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is wise to maintain good sugar control and have an eye examination every 6 to 12 months depending on the condition of your eyes. The earlier diabetic retinopathy is detected, the better the treatment outcome.

Dr. Bender communicates with the patient’s primary care provider regarding the ocular health status. If diabetes is affecting your retinal health, Dr. Bender refers you to a retina specialist for treatment.

Home monitoring of vision is prescribed using an Amsler Grid.  Antioxidant vitamins are also recommended.

High Blood Pressure

If you have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure), you can also experience vision or eye health problems. The eye carries a vast network of blood vessels that serve to nourish the retina tissue. As blood pressure is elevated, the retina vessels can be altered, becoming increasingly thin and tortuous. Additionally the health of the optic nerve can be compromised.

When you have high blood pressure, we recommend annual eye examinations to monitor the health of your eyes. Changes related to hypertension are also communicated to your primary care physician.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can also affect the eyes. When cholesterol is elevated it can result in deposits in the cornea (front of the eye). This is called corneal arcus and appears as a white ring around the cornea. Additionally, cholesterol can be seen in live blood vessels in the retina. Blood flow can be affected and the health of the retina tissue can be threatened.