Can An Annual Eye Exam Save Your Life?

Woman's eye7 Surprising Ways Eye Doctors Use Technology to Elevate Patient Care.

Do you think an eye exam is simply something you should do to improve your vision? Not any more. With today’s technology, your eye doctor could also spot life-threatening health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers and
more. That’s a great reason not to wait until you notice vision changes or need new glasses or contact lenses to schedule an eye appointment.

What many people don’t realize is that eye care professionals are equipped with a growing number of helpful technological advances and tools that offer more options and better outcomes for patients. Here are seven surprising ways doctors use eye care technology to help improve your health and quality of life.

No. 1: To help SAVE lives!

“We often see patients who haven’t seen their regular doctors for years,” says Kristen Leaser, a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant at Key-Whitman Eye Centers. “We’ve had several patients where, during the exam, the doctor has found advanced signs of hypertension or diabetes that needed to be addressed immediately. We often work with patients and help them arrange to see a specialist for these potentially life-threatening conditions right away.”

In addition, eye doctors regularly work with a patient’s primary care physician to monitor the progression of diseases and conditions once diagnosed. “If we notice any changes or escalation of symptoms, we will contact the patient’s primary care physician right away and help arrange for care,” Kristen says.

No. 2: To diagnose diseases and conditions at an earlier stage.

For years, eye doctors have used their naked eyes to examine the fully dilated eye with a microscope and look for signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other conditions during a standard eye exam. Technological advances continue to make it easier for doctors to diagnose, treat and monitor these diseases and conditions along with those pertaining specifically to the eye.

Key-Whitman President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman M.D. says, “We now have instruments that are showing us things we couldn’t see before, so we can diagnose conditions at a much earlier stage.”

No. 3: To perform cataract and LASIK eye surgeries that are more comfortable, precise and effective than ever before.

The high-tech equipment available today also means significantly better outcomes for patients. “Surgery is safer in the eye surgeon’s hands than it ever was, because we have available to us the latest equipment for performing procedures such as removing cataracts or LASIK vision correction, along with the highest technology in lens implants and diagnostic tools,” Dr. Whitman says.

In the case of cataracts, Dr. Whitman says “In the good old days, we used to wait until the cataract was very advanced before recommending cataract surgery, because back then, results weren’t as successful. Now, with small micro incision surgery, and the best equipment available, the results are more routinely successful, especially if you get at the cataract earlier.”

With technology such as femto laser-assisted cataract surgeries, patients experience less insult to the eye and quicker healing, because the incision is smaller and more precise. In addition, Wavelight® lasers for LASIK eye surgery procedures offer the best outcomes that have been reported to the FDA, which improves the quality of vision possible for LASIK patients.

No. 4: To relieve discomfort for dry eye patients.

A new advance in treatment for patients who suffer from the symptoms of dry eye syndrome has recently entered the market. Says Kristen, “There is no cure available for dry eye syndrome, but a new thermal pulsation system called LipiFlow® is now available that may offer relief to some patients.” LipiFlow can alleviate blockage in oil glands in the eyelids and offer more viscous coverage from the tear flow for some patients.

No. 5: To enhance diagnosis and give patients more options.

Another new tool available to eye care professionals is the HD Analyzer. “It will actually let us show patients, after a two to three minute reading, if they are starting to get cataracts and how advanced and dense the cataract is without checking their vision,” Dr. Whitman says.

For patients in their 40s and older, the HD Analyzer can be used to determine if a patient is better off getting cataract surgery with lens implants vs. LASIK. As people age, near vision naturally declines, so cataract surgery with lens implants may provide a better solution for some patients.

No. 6: To capture clear, detailed images of the entire eye with new camera technology that integrates with medical records automatically.

“The Optos technology is a high-tech digital camera that allows the doctor to take an image of the entire back of the eye, and it’s something we use on all patients with
diabetes and diabetic eye disease. It doesn’t require full dilation of the eye, which can be inconvenient for some patients, and the image automatically attaches to the patient’s digital medical record,” Kristen says.

This advance in camera technology makes it easier for eye care professionals to monitor the progress of diseases and conditions over time and adjust the course of treatment when needed.

No. 7: To change lives.

People who are diligent about having regular eye exams can help increase the odds that their health and eye problems will be diagnosed early on, so they can take action before any issues progress. The eye care professional’s improved ability to diagnose, monitor and treat life-threatening health issues, and diseases and conditions of the eyes, means better outcomes for patients in the short- and long-term.

Don’t take your good health and eyesight for granted. Be sure to schedule an annual eye exam.

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