The Eyes Have It for Early Detection

Seeing an eye doctor is one of the best ways to spot health issues early


Seeing an eye doctor is one of the best ways to spot serious health issues early, says Rick Rodriguez, O.D.

Poets may say that the eye is the window to the soul. But Ricardo "Rick" Rodriguez has a different theory: “The eye is the window to the body,” he says. “Anything that goes wrong with your body affects your eye first, so that puts eye doctors on the front lines of health care.”

Case in point: About a year ago, 40-year-old Sarah* arrived at America’s Best in Grapevine, Texas, complaining of double vision. She chalked it up to her old contact lenses. Sure, Dr. Rodriguez could’ve fitted her for a new pair, but instead he dug a little deeper. 

“I noticed that her speech was a little slurred,” he recalls. “And whenever I asked a question, it was her partner who jumped in to answer it. Plus, her blood pressure was really high.”

So Dr. Rodriguez used a microscope to look at the structure of Sarah’s eyes, choosing a small lens that would allow him to see all the way to the back of the eye. He noticed that it was swollen, and during a color vision test he saw a defect with the optic nerve. “I knew there was something very serious going on, so I referred her to a neurologist right away,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

Good thing he did. An MRI revealed that Sarah had a convexity meningioma—a tumor the size of a baseball—on the surface of her brain. Since the tumor was on the frontal lobe, it was affecting her logic, speech, balance, and thinking, and it was causing her double vision. Sarah had the tumor removed and received a lumbar puncture to relieve the intracranial pressure.

“I’m really interested in neuro-ophthalmology,” Dr. Rodriguez explains, “so I know what to search for and I try to pay attention to the small details. You’d be surprised—there’s a lot of swollen optic nerves in the general public.”

For Sarah, that visit to an eye doctor made all the difference. Turned out, she’d also been struggling with learning ever since her teens. She had seen countless specialists who hadn’t been able to figure out the problem. But after her treatment, the difference was like night and day. “When she came back for a follow-up visit, she was so grateful. She was so much more confident and happier, and she was able to express herself much more clearly.”

Dr. Rodriguez finds these moments to be very rewarding. “We have a great team and the latest equipment,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “But what really sets us apart is the doctor who goes the extra mile to offer the best care possible. Optometry is about more than just new eyeglasses and contacts—it’s about taking care of your health.”

*Name changed to protect patient privacy.

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