Retinal Imaging Questions:
Please describe what the retinal camera is used for and give a basic sense of how it works.
The retinal camera takes a magnified digital photograph of the back of the eye. It allows the Doctor to get a better view of the retina, macula, and optic disc in order to establish a baseline and to monitor the progression of eye conditions and diseases.
What components or how much of the retina does this look at and give imaging for?
The retinal camera looks at about a 45 degree view of the back of the eye. Unlike some other retinal imaging instruments, it gives a highly magnified view in great detail with clear resolution.
Dilation of the eyes allows us to view parts of the eye further out than what the camera sees, as well as checking your lens for cataracts.
What types of eye diseases and disorders can be discovered?
Common eye diseases that you can see are macular degeneration (pigment and vessel changes) and glaucoma (optic nerve changes). The most common systemic diseases are high blood pressure and diabetes. We can often tell how well a patient is controlling their disease by looking in the back of the eye. That is the only place in the body to actually observe blood vessels.
What is it about this particular technology that you find most exciting?
We appreciate the retinal camera for many reasons. First, it gives us a much more magnified and clear image than we could see without it. Secondly, we can follow a patient year to year and accurately monitor changes. Lastly, we enjoy educating our patients about the health of their eyes and help them to better understand the changes that they are experiencing.
Can you describe the patient experience when using this piece of equipment?
The patient puts their chin in the chin rest cup and looks at a flashing light. We ask them to keep looking at the light, and then they see a bright flash as the photo is taken. There is no touching or discomfort, just a bright flash of light. The whole test takes less than a minute.
Do the patients that walk through your doors appreciate the upgrade in technology?
Patient appreciate the upgrade in technology once they are able to see the image of the back of their eye and it is explained it to them. As the years go by, and their retinal photos get cloudier as cataracts develop, they really understand how their eyes and vision are changing. Nothing we can say beats seeing the changes over the years like a photograph.
How does this technology improve comprehensive eye exams compared to the days when we did not have a retinal camera?
We can diagnose, monitor and treat early changes much sooner because we can see so much more in greater detail than with a traditional exam only. Some subtle changes are just not as noticeable without the magnification of the retinal camera. They also appreciate seeing the comparison from previous photos to the current ones.
To what patients do you recommend using the retinal camera?
We recommend a baseline photo for everyone and follow up photos every 3 – 5 years for the general population. For patients with hypertension, diabetes, drusen, glaucoma, macular degeneration or retinal lesions and scars, we recommend annual photos.
Are there certain feelings or vision issues that a person may notice that would point to the need for retinal imaging?
Absolutely, someone with blurred or wavy vision may indicate macular changes. A person with a family history of macular degeneration also needs a closer look.
Can you share a particular story in which using the retinal camera, you were able to detect and treat a disease that would have otherwise gone undetected?
We have had many patients with early macular changes that are much easier to detect because of the retinal camera. Through dilation and retinal photos, we have diagnosed brain tumors and referred a patient to the hospital due to extremely high blood pressure. The photo showed swelling of the optic disc as well as extensive hypertensive hemorrhages.