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We Have New Technology!!

I am not really into new technology in many parts of my life.  In many ways I feel like I was born a least a century to late.  When I hunt I like to use an old patch and ball muzzle loader that is no different from what the mountainmen first used in this area in the 1840's.  When I fly fish I use a horse hair line I make myself and is the same as one used in Japan up to 500 years ago.  Even more shocking is the fact that I only moved away from my flip phone when my wife hid it.  I now have a Iphone 4S but have never actually ever used Siri.  Heck I don't even know if I spelled her name right. 

One area where I do love technology however is in my practice.  When I started optometry school 20 years ago the equipment in an Optometrists office Retinal Photohad not changed significantly in 50 years.  Since that time it has exploded.  At that time we had a semester long class on taking fundus photos, pictures of the back of the eye.  At that point only specialty clinics or university settings could afford the equipment and dedicated employee's required to offer such a service.  Five years later digital photography had changed all of that.  When I started a practice I put in a digital camera that could take better pictures than the camera I used in the university and I could train my staff to use it effectively in an hour.  That camera has allowed me to take better care of my patients.  That was awesome!  

Well technology continues to march on and with it so does my ability to offer even better care to my patients.  We have recently added two new pieces OCT normal retinaof equipment that allow me to find conditions earlier, diagnose more accurately and treat more effectively.  The first is an Optical Coherence Tomographer or OCT.  This device allows me to take scans of the structure of the back of the eye and look for changes that would indicate a need for intervention.  Basically it allows me to evaluate the retina, macula or optic nerve down to the cellular level and look for the damage caused by diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration.  In the past I would not have had this information or I would have had to refer a patient for more invasive testing to get it.  Now if I have a question about whether one of these conditions is there or is getting worse, in a matter of minutes, with no significant discomfort or inconvenience to the patient we can have the information we need to make the best decision for the patient.  That is awesome.

The second is not a totally new type of equipment for us.  It is just better, more sensitive and much faster.  It is a new visual field.  This is an OCT diabetic eye diseaseinstrument that allows us to make sure that all information your eye takes in, makes it to your brain.  While the OCT looks at structure of the retina or optic nerve, this looks at how the visual pathway is functioning.  The visual pathway goes from the eye and passes through almost all parts of the brain. Because of this it allows us to find conditions that not only affect the eye( glaucoma, retinal detachments) but the brain( tumors, strokes).  We have found all of these is our office.  Our new technology has allowed us to find patients who may be at risk sooner however.  

One quick story that offers an example of how this technology has improved our patient care.  A long time patient came  in for an exam.  Our new visual field flagged him as being a potential glaucoma patient.  This alerted me and made me much more suspicious during the exam which allowed me to notice subtle changes in his optic nerves.  Still unsure however we took five minutes to run an OCT scan which showed definite glaucomatous damage to his optic nerve.  Because of our new technology we diagnosed and were able to treat him 5 to10 years earlier and save vision that would have been lost without it.  So while I will continue to use my old muzzle loader and I probably will not use Siri, I love our new technology.  Stop by have a cookie and I would love to show it to you.

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