What’s New in Optometry?
I’m sure many of us remember having an eye test as a child. Reading the archetypal descending letters on the board at the opposite side of the room, mystifying questions about red and green shapes and the surprising way you could get a glimpse of the blood vessels in your eyes when you looked in a certain direction whilst the optometrist shone a light in. If all of this sounds very familiar to your experience at the optometrist, it'll beg the question – are eye tests the same as when we were 10 years old? What's new in optometry?
At Eyebou, we're at the forefront of what's new in optometry. Check out our iOS app for Virtual Try-on features (where you can try on frames using AR), or book a remote consultation with an in-house optometrist (this is called teleoptometry and we're all for it)! All from the convenience of your iPhone.
Back at the optometrist, I was fascinated by the immaculate case of endless lenses, and their strange alchemy of elevating my sight from a hazy blur to crisp HD sharpness. I loved the smell of the lens cleaning spray and how springy a new glasses case always was.
My optometrist (although often a different person each time) seemed to inhabit the same personality; always mild, calm, smartly dressed (often in a lab coat), singularly focused on their task of checking my eyes. And although perfectly nice, they always seemed a bit distant from me, as though from a different planet...landed on earth with the one purpose, to help people see better.
How strange it is then, to find myself now part of that alien-tribe, although a few things are different now.
Not only is it glaringly vital to me how important it is to connect with my patients, and try my best to understand their reality so that I can provide for them vision and spectacles that will align with their particular needs, the technology and know-how available to us as practitioners is an ever changing landscape.
It’s not something most people know, but optometrists have to keep up with a certain amount of continuous education per year. This covers a range of competencies and subjects, involves peer reviews of certain cases and considerable effort to attend, read and take part in various learning events to maintain your name as a working optometrist on the register. This continuous form of education keeps your optometrist's knowledge sharpened, and ensures they’re aware of what’s at the forefront of the field in terms of techniques, tech, treatment and understanding.
Not only does this help them to give you the most up to date advice and treatment, it also tempts them into wanting better tech for their practices, innovative ways to more accurately assess and preserve your sight, and at the very least, fun toys.
If you're an optometrist, check out our patient experience platform (PEP) to see how we're creating a better experience to optimise the way you manage your patient records.
In order to measure the internal pressure of the eyes, at university we learnt the principles of, and how to use a non-contact tonometer...better known to the world as the dreaded 'puff-test'.
The 'puff-test', seemingly harmless sounding, and even a bit silly, has been known to strike fear into even the hardiest time-worn labourman, and consists of having a (or multiple) 'puffs' of air 'puffed' onto each eye to measure the internal pressure. Sounds a bit mad, but the physics works, and it is hated universally. It comes down to the simple fact that it is written into our DNA not to want anything, 'puffed' or otherwise touching or aimed at our eyes. That’s human nature, designed for survival.
Not uncommonly, the first thing a new patient will ask me is 'Will we have to do that puff-test?', or 'We don’t have to do that puff-test do we?', to which I respond by saying, 'Absolutely not!', and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.
Another toy we optometrists use, is the OCT instrument. You might have already heard of this, or experienced it’s magic. OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography, and is an imaging device that uses near-infrared light to look much more closely at the tissues of the eye, even beneath the surface of the retina.
This has vast applications, and has huge advantages in the early detection of eye disease and the preservation of vision. It’s also super informative and visual, providing you with an often much more digestible understanding of what’s what within the eye, helping to dissolve generational eye-myths, and allow you to make much more informed decisions about your eyecare and maintenance of your vision.
Most of us will have experienced having a retinal photograph taken at our routine eye tests, with the optometrist often (hopefully) explaining the various parts of the galactic moons and rivers glowing orange and red in front of us on the screen. This in itself is a wonder. How often do we get a custom walk-through of the intricacies of the detail INSIDE parts of our organs?! Retinal photography was first developed in the 1800’s, with more modern technology refined by the Zeiss company in 1926, however only being used commercially large-scale from 2008.
Nowadays, we can create topographical maps of your maculae, build 3D renders of your retinae, and assess the layers of your internal eye structures beneath their surfaces. We can use OCT technology to measure objective data of your eyes, and compare that data to age-matched normal values to detect early problems and protect your vision.
All of the mentioned above are only a glimpse of what's new in optometry. Gone are the days when your seemingly singular dimensioned optician would carry out a predetermined list of made-for-all measurements on you. These days your annual eye examination should be, at the very least, carried out by a multidimensional clinician, deeply interested in the needs of your particular unique reality, and using the very best innovative equipment and know-how available to craft a custom experience for you. And if they don’t, find one who does.
This post, 'What's New in Optometry?', was written by Eyebou's lead optometrist, Mai Monavar.