I was proud to join my father, Dr. Bruce Clarin, in the practice of optometry six years ago. Upon graduating, I felt my book knowledge was second to none, and I was proud to join an optometrist who also kept up with the latest in eye care education and current research.
Fast-forward six years and everything I thought I knew is out the window. Obviously the experience of seeing 10,000 patients taught me a lot more than my formal education ever could. The day-to-day management of patients, along with building and running a practice isn’t exactly what school teaches. But the biggest change has come in the past month.
We recently incorporated new technology into our office that has me questioning the job I was doing before – and the job of eye doctors everywhere.
We purchased a spectral domain optical coherence tomographer (SD-OCT) – a long and technical name that I wouldn’t expect you to understand – but a piece of equipment that I think once you experience, you’ll agree has changed eye care forever.
This technology is fairly new – it didn’t exist when I was in optometry school. But the revolution is the ability of the SD-OCT to detect eye problems before we ever could with a ‘normal’ exam. And the machine we use has an iWellness component, so we can incorporate this technology into our comprehensive eye exams.
So now during your visit, we can perform a superior exam, see more pathology and detect problems earlier and more thoroughly – all of which benefit our patients. And everyday I see something that would have been missed during a regular exam.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “my last exam was pretty thorough, the doctor did a great job.” And you’re probably right. But we all do our best until technology has made our best even better.
The SD-OCT is like an MRI of the eye. It uses light to penetrate the retina and see the microscopic layers deeper than what we would see with a traditional eye exam. Looking at these layers gives us information that simply wasn’t available a few years ago. My father remarked when he first saw the machine that when he was in school the only way to see these layers was to dissect a cadaver and use the 1979 state-of-the-art microscopes – and even then it wasn’t as clear of an image.
Now we can view these components of the eye in real time. Simply amazing.
But the point I’m making is that this technology has changed how I see eye care (pun intended). It has allowed us to perform more comprehensive exams, to understand our patients’ vision better and it has led to earlier detection and treatment of eye diseases. And it has made me question how ‘thorough’ I was performing exams before.
I hope every eye care patient takes advantage of this technology and makes sure they have the most complete eye exam available. I know I wouldn’t accept anything less for my family.