We are proud to boast some of the latest, state of the art, optometry equipment within the practice. Not only are we gadget-lovers, it makes sense to exploit our clinical expertise by using the best technology on the market to get the most accurate results for patients.
We’re often asked by patients what the kit does. So here’s a brief explanation and we’re more than happy to offer a guided tour of the equipment during a consultation – just ask. We’re geeks too!
The OCT Scanner
We have taken pictures of the back of the eye for over 10 years but the OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) enables us to see both 3D as well as seeing underneath the surface of the retina. The result is we get a view of early signs of conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. In turn, patients have greater confidence in the accuracy of our assessment of their eye health.
Visual Fields Machine
Any condition that affects the nerve of the eye or the brain like strokes or trauma can result in a loss of areas of peripheral vision. This is clearly a dangerous thing for drivers or even pedestrians crossing the road if, for example, the left side of both eyes is missing. Therefore, we do carry out routine check on most people over 40 and others who are potentially at risk of loss of side vision.
The front of the eye may look like a clear window and although it is just half a millimeter thick it has in fact many layers which are impossible to see with the naked eye. The slit lamp is a high powered microscope with a very intense light source that provides a very detailed examination of these layers. Since there are many conditions which result in a “red eye”, only by detailed examination with this equipment can an accurate diagnosis be made. We use the slit lamp on every patient we see.
Electronic LED Chart
While everyone is familiar with the old ‘eye test chart’, it is not as effective for children who do not know their letters, those whose English is poor or those who have other learning difficulties. Our projector chart can offer pictures, letters, numbers, coloured images in a line or singly to reduce confusion in understanding the nature of the test. The chart is equally lit across its surface and each letter has exactly the same level of illumination thus avoiding the problems associated with having a variable level of light falling across the chart.
The standard image people have of an ‘eye test’ is a pair of badly fitting specs perched on the nose with various lenses being dropped in and out to try and get to the final prescription. In 1997 we decided that technology had moved on so we have used phoropters ever since. This machine contains all the lenses that might ever be needed and is controlled by an electronic pad and wheel device. It is held in front of the face just touching the brow very lightly. Because the lenses move fast we need to spend relatively little time on the prescription element of the examination allowing us more time for other health related examinations.
Some of the wee kiddie eye tests
A common question is ‘at what age should I bring my children in for an examination?’ Our answer is ‘any age’. For children who cannot read or even respond to any question we use a Retinoscope which gives us an objective assessment of the prescription. This tells us whether there is any significant error that needs early correction and in most cases reassures us everything is within normal limits.
As children get older they can match letters on a card to different sized letters we show them. Older still and we can show them pictures of common objects – cars, yachts, aeroplanes and so on.
On top of all that there are other sensitive tests to check both eyes work together and that colour vision is within normal limits.
We take photos of the back of the eye of almost everyone we see so that we can build up a long term picture of how the eyes are changing over time. There is nothing so good as having a previous image to help us decide if something new is going on. The OCT machine also takes a colour photo of the eye so we can do the standard picture or else the preferred 3D version which gives us much more information.
The eye is kept ‘blown up’ by fluid that comes in at the back of the eye and out near the front. Sometimes the drain gets blocked up for unknown reasons and the pressure inside the eye rises. If it rises too high it can compress the small nerves in the eye resulting in a loss of side vision (see visual fields for how this is tested). We test the pressure with one of two instruments; one requires us to anaesthetize the eye with drops before touching the surface with a very sensitive probe, the other one is less accurate but requires no drops.
Seiko Video Technology
If you’re short sighted, you’ll know how challenging it is to choose a pair of glasses given you can’t see what they look like when they’re on as you peer close-up to the glass. In response to patient feedback, we invested in Seiko’s latest video technology to offer patients a means of photographing them with a variety of glasses so they can see what they look like from all angles.
Better still, patients get to see the difference between lens types for distance and close-up. Ultimately, they can make a much more informed choice, particularly the varifocal population who are experiencing much better results.
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