It may not just be diabetics who have a higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) if they develop the eye condition retinopathy. Its reputation as a sign of systemic disease could extend to non-diabetics. "New studies have proven that retinopathy may occur parallel to small vessel disease in other organs such as the heart," says Jonathan Sears, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cleveland Clinics Cole Eye Institute. "This means that a simple eye exam could potentially help assess a patients risk of CHD. Diabetes is a known risk factor, because this disease affects small vessels-but new clinical research has revealed a similar association in non-diabetics."