Can an Annual Eye Exam Save Your Life?
- Posted on: Aug 20 2014
7 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.
Photo Source: iStock by Getty Images
Keywords/Tags: cataracts, cataract surgery, diabetic eye disease, dry eye syndrome,
symptoms of dry eye, eye care, LASIK, LASIK eye surgery procedures, vision
correction, lens implants, eye surgery, eye surgeons