Women (and Especially those Over 40) – It is Time to Pay Attention to Your Eye Health!

April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which may, at first glance, seem a bit of a niche concern. However, according to the organization Prevent Blindness, women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans, age 40 and older, who are visually impaired or blind.  More women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.  These numbers will only continue to increase in the years to come.

Although there are no cures for some of these diseases, many of the effects may be lessened through early detection and treatment.  A 2015 survey found that one in four women had not received an eye exam in the past two years. Since women may not be aware that they are at greater risk than men of developing eye disease that could lead to serious vision impairment, practitioners can take the opportunity during Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month to stress the importance of paying attention to eye health and the importance of an annual eye exam.

A comprehensive eye exam should include a thorough examination of the retina, including an optomap, which is complementary to a DFE and an excellent tool for screening and for patient education. Because an optomap image can be obtained in less than ½ second, it leaves ample time for the practitioner to educate on eye health.

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Dr. Germain Burke and Britta

Dr. Germain Burke, of Burke Optometry in Lodi, California, understands the value of optomap in communicating with and educating her patients. She recounts a story about her patient, Britta, that demonstrates how an optomap screening can reveal issues in asymptomatic patients, as well as, patients who have trouble communicating or who may minimize health issues or concerns.

In July 2017, Britta made an appointment with Dr. Burke for a routine eye exam.  She did not share that she had been concerned about some vision distortion in her left eye.  However, Burke approached the exam as she would any routine visit, and fortunately for Britta, that included an optomap. The ultra-widefield digital retinal image provides a 200° view of the retina, out to the far periphery, and this .04 second capture revealed a large shadow OS.  Burke realized immediately that she was looking at a well-progressed melanoma.

“The melanoma was in the periphery but very clear.  It was a Friday afternoon so she took a picture of the optomap image on the screen and sent that immediately to her primary care physician through a secure portal.  Her PCP responded quickly and got her set up for a retinal exam on Monday.  On Tuesday she was in to see the oncologist and a PET scan, thankfully, showed that the cancer had not spread.”  A week later Britta had a radioactive plaque sewn into the sclera opposite the lesion and is now being monitored for efficacy and progression.

“I believe I am a good doctor but with optomap I feel like I am going to be able to catch big or small issues that I might not have seen otherwise.  I can provide more accurate notes and detailed information when I refer a patient on to a specialist. It facilitates the communication for follow-up care as well, and monitoring is more accurate,” says Burke.

She notes that they brought optomap technology into the practice shortly before she saw Britta, and stresses that this case is one of the reasons that she and the staff at Burke Optometry are glad that they did not wait to make that purchase. “Because we had that optomap image, the communication and the responsive action worked as smoothly and quickly as it possibly could have.  I really believe there was no other way it could have gone as well.  This is one of the reasons I sincerely feel everyone should have an optomap taken as part of a comprehensive exam.”

Visit our website to find a doctor such as Dr. Burke, who has optomap in their practice.

 

Doctor Discovers His Own Pathology with Proven UWF Technology

When Vince Young, OD introduced the Daytona from Optos in his practice, he volunteered to be the imaging guinea pig while his staff was being trained on the device.  He was unnerved when he reviewed his images with the trainer and somewhat uncertain about what he was actually seeing.  He knew what a posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC) looked like through the slit lamp but was surprised by what the optomap image laid evident.  While optomap is known for being able to penetrate through medial opacities far better than white light modalities, a PSC, which tends to be denser than other types of cataract, will cast a shadow on the retina revealing the issue. A concerned Dr. Young sent the image to his wife, Lindsey Brewer Young, OD.  When she reviewed the image on her phone she immediately responded, questioning whose eye she was regarding.  Learning it was her husband’s image she returned to the clinic, conducted a dilated exam, and confirmed that it was indeed a PSC that had been revealed in the optomap image.

Doctor discovers his own pathology with optomap

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Young, who is 40, had no reason to suspect he would have cataracts which are more typically associated with the elderly population.  A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens and can be caused by a variety of circumstances such as systemic issues and some forms of medication. Posterior subscapsular cataracts are also more difficult to remove, due to adhesion of the cataract to the lens capsule, and there is an increased risk of capsule rupture during removal.1   However, Young’s cataract surgery on both eyes was successful and his vision is fine.

This discovery has become an excellent tool in communicating the importance of optomap to his patients.  The image hangs in the exam room while Young and his staff frequently share the story. “If the doctor didn’t know he had a cataract, how would anyone else know?” they say, underscoring how valuable the screening can be.  This unusual story has assisted with the elevated level of acceptance the optomap receives in the office.

Blanchard Eye Care sits in a quiet community outside Blanchard, OK and Young was concerned that he would have difficulty getting people in the rural community to embrace the technology.  He, however, was convinced that if he at least broke even it would be worth the investment based on the clinical value.  “Before purchasing the Daytona, I asked several of my colleagues about their experiences and they referred to it as a ‘no—brainer’,” says Young. He stresses that while the technology has without a doubt brought a financial bonus, the value of what it provides clinically far outweighs the monetary gain.

Young stresses how the exam experience has changed with optomap in an extremely valuable way when it comes to patient education.  The optomap image enables him to help his patients understand exactly what is occurring in their eye, or even just to provide reassurance that all is well.  “Even if there is no pathology, patients want me to take the images every year. They want to see what I see.”

Young happens to be color blind and further identifies another contribution that optomap brings to him, personally.  Because of this, a slit lamp view can sometimes make it difficult for him to distinguish between a hematoma and a nevus.  “However, the optomap image allows me to look at the different channels, and these features really jump out on some of the layers.  I’m much more positive about my diagnoses now.”

Dr. Young’s story demonstrates that it is not only possible for practitioners to image themselves and discover retinal pathology but also discover if significant opacities reside in the media as well.

Today, cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older. And as the US population ages, more than 30 million Americans are expected to have cataracts by the year 2020.2  optomap technology is being increasingly utilized in cataract surgery clinics for immediate views of the retina.  The ultra-widefield view is obtained through problematic, medial opacities, where white light has difficulty, revealing any retinal issues that might be a concern prior to surgery, as well as, following surgery. The ability to quickly and easily observe and document retinal health before and after cataract surgery provides both the patient and practitioner a tremendous peace of mind.

optomap, helping doctors identify pathology, even on themselves. Let us know if you are ready to bring optomap to your practice or clinic.

1http://optometrytimes.modernmedicine.com/optometrytimes/content/tags/cataract/types-cataracts-and-their-underlying-conditions?page=full

2 http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/cataracts.htm

 

Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness month and in efforts to help educate the public on the disease here are a few facts you should know pertaining to your eye health:

 

Nearly 3 million people over the age of 40 have glaucoma and as the population ages the number is projected to grow steadily, increasing by nearly 50% to 4.3 million by 2032 according to the Prevent Blindness “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems” report.

 

Glaucoma is often called the “the sneak thief of sight” because most people don’t notice the early symptoms. However, if it is detected and treated early enough vision loss may be decreased. Risk factors that increase your odds of glaucoma include: extreme nearsightedness, aging eyes, and a family history. For the best chance of early detection, regular, comprehensive eye exams should be conducted even if you have no symptoms.

 

It’s imperative to act fast to protect your vision! If you wait until after you’ve already experienced some vision loss to seek help you may not be able to restore your eye sight even with surgery or treatment – glaucoma typically affects your peripheral vision first. As the only ultra-widefield retinal imaging technology with a 200 degree view of the retina, optomap® can capture more of your peripheral retinal and allow eye care profesionals to see more and treat more, effectively. Because early diagnosis is critical to saving your vision if diagnosed with glaucoma, a regular comprehensive eye exam including optomap is essential.

 

Visit the Optos website to learn more about the benefits ultra-widefield retinal imaging can provide. Or contact us directly!

 

World Sight Day: A Clear Goal on Universal Eye Health

In an effort to raise global awareness about vision impairment and blindness, the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have declared October 8 World Sight Day. In the third year of  their theme “Universal Eye Care,” the focus is Eye Care for All.

Source: World Health Organization

Source: World Health Organization

The mandate for “eye care for all” is to educate and promote to the public that blindness and vision impairment are serious health issues that span the globe. Through the participation in World Sight Day (WSD), the hope is to engage government officials responsible for healthcare and to have them fund and participate in programs for national blindness prevention awareness.

 

Several points relating to educating the public about unnecessary vision loss internationally have been culled to help provide guidance for those participating in this year’s WSD:

 

  • – Low vision or blindness affects roughly 285 million people across the globe.
  • – While approximately 246 million suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, 39 million are blind.
  • – Countries with low incomes hold 90 percent of the persons who are blind.
  • – As many as 80 percent of people who have become blind could have had treatment or preventative measures.
  • – Blindness prevention and sight restoration are some of the greatest savings in healthcare spending.
  • – With education and intervention, blindness from infectious diseases has been greatly reduced.
  • – There are roughly 19 million children who suffer from vision impairment globally.
  • – While only 20 percent of the world’s population is over 50, this group suffers visual impairment at a rate of 65 percent.
  • – As the over 50 age group increases world wide, age-related visual impairment is expected to grow.

 

As proponents of eye health, Optos would like to encourage you to participate in World Sight Day by reminding your patients to maintain a regular schedule for comprehensive eye exams including optomap®. With the ability to view up to 200 degrees of the retina and into the periphery, you are able to diagnose eye pathologies earlier than with other devices, contributing to greater success in preventable vision loss and blindness. View our ultra-widefield imaging devices and contact us to learn how we can help your practice.

 

Computer Screen Straining Your Eyes? Follow these Steps

Computers play a major role in many people’s daily workday. Remaining focused on computer screens for eight or more hours a day causes a condition that is now known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Since there are many problems associated with eye strain and computer screens, CVS is a generic term that encompasses all of them.

 

Source: g-stockstudio via iStock

Source: g-stockstudio via iStock

 

Roughly 50 to 90 percent of people who work on computers suffer from some form of eye problems. When you combine the blue light, flickering and glare from a computer screen with the constant need to focus, your eye muscles face considerable exertion. This can lead to CVS symptoms such as:

 

  • – Blurred vision
  • – Seeing double images
  • – Red, dry or irritated eyes
  • – Headaches

 

Although CVS has not been tied directly to permanent conditions, the symptoms can affect your performance and should be alleviated as much as possible. The following tips can help if you spend many hours a day working with computer screens:

 

  • – Be sure to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam including optomap®. Your eye care professional can monitor vision changes if any and diagnose troubling conditions before they do become permanent. If necessary, corrective lenses may be prescribed which can help reduce the stress on your eye muscles.
  • – Follow the 20-20-20 rule for your eyes: At 20-minute intervals, focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The distance helps to relax the muscle that is responsible for focusing.
  • – Adjust your workstation to minimize strain on your eyes. Use document holders so you are not having to look up and down so often. Position your chair and monitor so the distance of the screen to your eyes is 20 to 24 inches.
  • – Make a habit of blinking regularly. When immersed in our work, we tend to forget to blink which robs our eyes of moisture and can lead to dryness and irritation.
  • – Take frequent breaks. Rather than two 15-minute breaks, consider taking shorter breaks more often. If that is not an option, break up your computer time with other tasks to rest your eyes and move some.

 

Optos would like to stress the importance of a comprehensive eye exam including optomap® when dealing with eye strain and computer screens. Only your eye care professional can determine whether the symptoms are due to eye strain or an eye problem that can potentially lead to vision loss.