How Eye Exams Can Reveal Blood Disorders

Getting routine eye exams is an integral component of your healthcare routine. Eye exams are especially important for those who have preexisting ocular conditions such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. While an eye examination can help detect problems with your retina, cornea, macula, pupils, and the lenses of your eyes, they may also reveal the presence of the following blood disorders.


If you develop a subconjunctival hemorrhage or a ruptured blood vessel inside your eye, your optometrist may assure you that this condition is common and rarely serious. A broken blood vessel of the eye can be caused by an injury or even from vigorously coughing. If you develop a subconjunctival hemorrhage, the white part of your eye will look like it is bleeding. The blood from the ruptured blood vessel gradually gets reabsorbed back into the eye without any pain, loss of vision, or ocular irritation.

While most cases of subconjunctival hemorrhage are nothing to worry about, if you frequently develop broken blood vessels inside your eyes, your optometrist may suspect that you have a platelet disorder known as thrombocytopenia. This condition means that you have a low platelet count, which can raise your risk for abnormal bleeding and excessive bruising. If your eye doctor suspects a platelet disorder, they may refer you back to your physician for further evaluation and treatment.

Low Blood Count

Optometrists often examine the palpebral conjunctiva, which refers to the inner lower eyelid. If this area appears white or otherwise pale, it may mean that you have a low blood count or low hemoglobin level, which can indicate anemia.

In addition to conjunctival pallor, low hemoglobin levels may also cause facial and nailbed paleness. If your eye exam reveals conjunctival pallor, your optometrist may suggest that you ask your physician to check your hemoglobin level. If your hemoglobin is low, your doctor may recommend that you eat more iron-rich foods or take an over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplement containing iron. Once your hemoglobin level returns to normal, conjunctival pallor will resolve. 

If your eye examination reveals signs of the above blood disorders, work with both your eye doctor and your primary care physician. It is important to note, that while the above blood disorders can lead to weakness, pallor, fatigue, headaches, and heart palpitations, they can also cause eye symptoms. For example, anemia can raise your risk for the yellowing of the whites of your eyes. When the whites of your eyes are yellow, it often means that jaundice is present.

For more information on eye exams, reach out to a company like Northwest Ophthalmology.