Fergus Falls Optometric Center
"Family Eyecare from the Eyecare Family."
Dr. Mark D. Olmsted and Dr. Christine A. Olmsted
117 E. Lincoln Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Appointments: 218-736-7555

Itís All Connected

It’s All Connected

By Dr. Mark D. Olmsted

Do you remember the old childhood song ‘Dem Dry Bones’? You know: “The toe bone connected to the heel bone… the heal bone connected to the foot bone…etc” Well, your eyes and their health have many interactions with other systems of your body. This includes ocular (eye-related) side-effects from disease processes and the medications that are used to treat them.

When you come in for a comprehensive eye examination there is a case history section called ‘the review of systems’. We will sometimes have patients wondering why we are asking questions about other body areas and get comments like, “What does that have to do with my glasses?” Maybe nothing, but more importantly it may very well have something to do with your eyes and their health. I’m going to run through a shortened bodily systems review and give at least one example of why your optometrist needs to know this information.

CARDIOVASCULAR: If a person has a known heart condition, there is one pupil dilating medication that can cause the heart to race in some people. There appears to me a correlation between heart disease and macular degeneration.

EAR, NOSE, MOUTH, THROAT: Maybe a patient has a problem with dry mouth. Dry eyes are also a strong possibility in those cases. A person who gets cold sores can sometimes spread them to the eye, if the person isn’t careful about washing and sanitizing his/her hands and inadvertently rubs an eye.

RESPIRATORY: Do you have asthma, COPD, farmer’s lung or other serious breathing trouble? If you do and glaucoma is found, there is a whole family of medications that must be avoided when prescribing for that eye disease due to the possibility of a serious side effect on breathing. Maybe one of your treatments for respiratory trouble includes prednisone, which in some cases can cause a specific type of cataract or even glaucoma in genetically pre-disposed patients.

GASTRO-INTESTINAL: Perhaps you have Crohn’s disease or another auto-immune disorder of the intestines. People in this boat have an increased risk for inflammatory conditions of the eye, such as iritis.

GENITORURINARY: This is often uncomfortable for patients to talk about. If a person has a history of genital herpes, the infection can also spread to the eye, just like a cold sore on the mouth can. Viagra users can have side effects to the vision and the optic nerve. Medication for incontinence may cause floppy iris syndrome after cataract surgery, so your optometrist must have this info to convey to the referred surgeon prior to the procedure.

MUSCULOSKELETAL: Rheumatoid arthritis is a prime example of an inflammatory disorder that can also cause ocular conditions like dry eyes, iritis, scleritis, and episcleritis. People on Placquinil for that condition must me monitored regularly for a possible side effect to the retina.

INTEGUMENTARY (SKIN): Psoriasis sufferers may also get arthritis and the previously mentioned conditions from it. A history of skin cancer has eye docs watching for more on the face especially the eyelids.

NEUROLOGICAL: Have you had a stroke? This can affect your visual field. It can cause double vision. It can affect the way the eyelids work causing dry areas on the eye or excessive tearing.

ENDOCRINE: Hyperthyroid disease can cause exposure dryness and secondary eye infections due to eyelids retracting and the eye bulging from the socket.

ALLERGIC/IMMONOLOGIC: Hay fever is an obvious cause for itchy eyes for which optometrists prescribe antihistamine drops. If you have an allergy to nickel or other metals, care must be taken in your eyewear frame material selection. Medication allergies are important to know in the event that an eye drop must be prescribed for infections or glaucoma.

There are many more examples for these and other body systems. Optometrists are highly trained in how systemic diseases and their medications can affect the human eye. Please be forthcoming when asked about your medical history, which of course remains confidential. It’s important that your eye doctor knows these things to be on the alert for ocular side effects. Hey, it’s all connected: “the foot bone connected to the ankle bone…the ankle bone connected …