Over the last twenty years, the delivery of healthcare has changed significantly in many ways: from the conversations doctors have with their patients in the exam room, to how information is exchanged and delivered, to how insurance companies have placed more of a financial burden on the patient. As a result, both healthcare providers and patients alike have had to learn how to adjust to these changing times.
Fortunately, these changing times also bring about significant improvements in the way we deliver healthcare. As optometrists, we specialize in the delivery of eye care. Like other healthcare specialties, our industry has seen much advancement in technology that allows us to provide a significantly higher level of care to our patients. We now have tools to help evaluate the eye in more detail, with more accuracy, and with more confidence to detect diseases than ever before.
At my practice, we utilize three unique technologies that allow us to perform a comprehensive eye exam with consistency, sophistication, and precision like never before. We call it a “Modern Eye Exam.” Here we will take a look at these three technologies:
Optos Daytona. One of the most important aspects of an eye exam includes a detailed evaluation of the inside back lining of the eye, known as the retina. The retina is responsible for capturing light that enters the eye, and chemically transferring that information into vision. Until recently, viewing this part of the eye was only possible by dilating the pupils (expanding the opening of the eyes with eye drops), which would allow for a visual inspection of the retina and its other critical components, the macula and optic nerve. From the doctor’s perspective, this is like going down into a dark basement with a small flashlight and looking around. Wherever you point your light, that’s what you see. The Optos Daytona captures a digital image of 80-90% of the entire inside of the eye. With this technology, I can inspect a wide-field view of almost all of the tissue that lines the inside of the eye. It’s like walking down into that same basement and flipping on the overhead lights. While not a substitute for dilation, an Optos Daytona image is a valuable supplement and can provide a baseline for threatening visual conditions. In addition, this imagery can be digitally stored in a patients record and compared from year to year. All of this means a better eye exam for the patient.
OptoVue iWellness. In addition to the Optos Daytona, we utilize the optical coherence tomography (OCT) iWellness technology in my practice, developed by OptoVue. The OptoVue iWellness technology utilizes light to provide a detailed, high-resolution, cross-sectional image of the macula (central vision) with a resolution of up to 5 microns (by comparison, a human hair is 150 microns thick!). In particular, the OCT iWellness images can provide significant details about diseases that affect the macula, such as macular degeneration. This device also measures the very fine layer of nerve fibers that travel from the eye to the brain, which can’t be seen on a routine dilated eye exam. Changes in this nerve fiber layer over time can suggest early glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease.
ClearPath DS-120. Finally, we are one of the few practices in the country to utilize a new device for the early detection of Diabetes called the ClearPath DS-120 by Freedom Meditech. Diabetes is the fastest growing healthcare epidemic in America, and early detection is crucial to not only preventing vision loss, but also preserving one’s overall health. The Clearpath DS-120 works by measuring glucose byproducts in the human crystalline lens, which accumulate over our lifetime. High levels of this glucose byproduct in the lens can suggest a higher risk of developing diabetes. Early detection allows us to potentially identify those that may go on to develop the disease.
These are just a few of the new technologies that we now have at our disposal. The ability to detect eye diseases much sooner is critical to ensuring patients continue to have a lifetime of clear vision and healthy eyes. These are changing times. But with the changing times comes powerful new tools to help ensure that we can give, and patients receive, the most comprehensive, modern eye exam possible. And that’s better for everyone.