One of the most crucial parts of an annual eye exam is examining the retina (the tissue in the back of the eye) and the optic nerve for abnormalities. The retina is the only place in the body that allows doctors to non-invasively visualize blood vessels, which aids in detecting and monitoring diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and risk of stroke. In addition to these vascular findings, retinal and optic nerve evaluation can also help in diagnosing conditions such as brain tumors, MS, lupus, and even cancer.
Most ocular conditions that can cause permanent vision loss are only able to be detected with a full retinal examination. Retinal detachments, glaucoma, macular degeneration, ocular melanoma and findings related to the systemic conditions listed above can all be discovered during a retinal exam even before any symptoms arise.
A dilated eye exam has historically been the preferred way for examining retinal health. Dilation drops are instilled into your eyes to temporarily paralyze the muscle that controls pupillary constriction to light. This allows doctors to obtain a wider retinal view than if you were not dilated. Dilation drops take 20-30 minutes to fully work and can cause over 4 hours of uncomfortable side effects including blurred vision (particularly at near), light sensitivity and occasionally headaches or nausea.
With modern technology, we are now able to use our Optomap camera to provide a more extensive view of the retina without dilation drops!* This imaging is painless, takes only a few minutes, and allows us to take a high resolution panoramic photograph of the inside of your eye. Our doctors are able to show you your images immediately and store them for annual comparison.
Similar to a dentist requiring X-rays to be able to detect and prevent disease progression, the Optomap image is critical in providing a thorough ocular health examination and has been proven to detect more retinal pathology than traditional dilation.
Our doctors have experienced enough devastating diagnoses discovered only from Optomap imaging that we now require it on all of our patients at every annual exam. We strive to provide our patients with thorough, effective and convenient care and the Optomap has made that mission easier and more comfortable for you than ever by eliminating the need for dilation drops!*
*Please note, use of dilation drops may still be necessary in certain cases, particularly for finalizing prescriptions in young or non-verbal patients.