The Advantages of High-Resolution Retinal Imaging

22 Mar.,2024


 The problem with diagnosing certain eye conditions is that some of their symptoms only appear in the later stages of the disease. And by the time these symptoms do emerge, the condition may have already done irreversible damage to the patient’s vision. That’s why it’s important that you see your local optician at least once a year for an eye exam.  Through routine eye exams, opticians can detect the early warning signs of retinal conditions.

As a rule of thumb, patients with no known risk factors for retinal diseases undergo a comprehensive eye examination every two years. However, if they have known risk factors or are nearing the age of 60, they should see their optician more frequently.

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of routine eye exams depends on their accuracy, which in turn depends on the kinds of technology used. While traditional inspection methods have a high degree of accuracy, your optician may recommend high-resolution retinal imaging in addition to the traditional retinal exam if you’re at high risk of developing diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other retinal conditions.

What are the benefits of high-resolution retinal imaging? And why do opticians recommend patients undergo high-resolution retinal imaging in addition to traditional retinal exams?

The Advantages of Optical High-Resolution Retinal Imaging

  • Convenience  – It’s hard for eye doctors to examine your eyes if the pupils aren’t dilated or widened, which is why they’ll give you eye drops to dilate your pupils during a routine eye exam.  The eye drops usually take about 15 to 30 minutes to take effect and 4 to 6 hours to wear off. During this time, your pupils will be more sensitive to light. As such, we recommend waiting for a few hours for the effects to wear off before you drive back home.

    If you need to go home right after an eye exam or don’t want to experience the discomfort stemming from dilated pupils, you can ask your optician to use a high-resolution optical imaging instead of a dilated eye exam. Unlike conventional dilated eye exams, high-resolution retinal imaging doesn’t require the use of dilated eye drops or any contact with your eyes for that matter. A patient simply needs to look at the device one eye at a time. The scan only takes a second, and a flash will let you know when the device has finished taking an image of your retina.

    Important Note: The use of eye drops isn’t normally needed in high-resolution retinal imaging, but it may be needed in special cases such as eye exams before Lasik surgery.

  • Early detection – Optical high-resolution imaging can provide a more detailed and comprehensive image of your retina. Downtown Eyes uses an Optos® retinal scanner that can capture images showing 82% of your retina in a single scan. Your optician can use more detailed retinal imaging to examine the blood vessels in your retina and detect early warning signs of retinal and non-retinal conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Remember: The earlier a certain eye condition is detected and treated, the better.

  • More detailed monitoring and documentation of the progression of the condition – Your optician will save your Optomaps or retina scans, so they can compare them later on with more recent Optomaps and help you manage your condition better.
  • Safety – High-resolution retinal imaging non-invasive, low-intensity scanning lasers that are unlikely to cause any adverse reactions.
  • Health insurance coverage – An added benefit is that most health insurance policies cover Optomaps that were used to document the signs of disease after it was diagnosed. However, insurers have different policies regarding high-resolution retinal imaging, so it’s best to consult your insurer if you have any questions or concerns.

Importance Note: High-resolution retinal imaging isn’t a substitute for a traditional eye exam. Rather, it’s an optional but highly effective component of eye exams that can help increase their precision.

What to Expect During a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Here’s an overview of what a comprehensive eye exam usually entails:

  • Medical history disclosure and initial eye test – A clinical assistant will ask you about your medical and family history as well as any vision problems you may have recently experienced.
  • Visual acuity test – The test wherein you’ll read letters from a sign that is positioned away from you is called the visual acuity test. Optometrists use this test to evaluate your vision and see how it compares to the standard 20/20 vision.
  • Retinoscopy – The instrument with numerous lenses and dials is called a phoropter, which is used to measure your optimal lens prescription. After you put the phoropter on, your optometrist will ask you to focus on a particular object. While you’re gazing at a faraway object, the optometrist will adjust the lenses and assess how these adjustments affect the light coming through your eyes.
  • Refraction test – The refraction test determines how farsighted or nearsighted you are and whether your vision is affected by astigmatism. The optometrist will place different pairs of lenses into the phoropter while you’re looking at a chart. They’ll ask you if your vision improves every time they insert new lenses into the phoropter.
  • Keratometry test – A keratometry test measures the degree of astigmatism in your eyes. Astigmatism is caused by steep or elongated curves in the cornea, which controls the amount of light that enters your eyes. During the test, you’ll look into a special machine that will measure the curvature and shape of your cornea.
  • Peripheral visual field test – As the name suggests, a peripheral visual field test will measure your peripheral vision. There are several ways to measure a patient’s peripheral vision during an eye examination. Your optometrist may conduct a confrontation visual field exam wherein they’ll extend their hand in and out of your peripheral vision and ask you how many fingers they’re holding up. Another method would be the tangent screen exam wherein your optometrist will move objects in and out of your peripheral vision and ask you when they first appear and disappear out of your peripheral vision.
  • Intraocular pressure measurement – Optometrists will measure intraocular pressure or the pressure created by the fluid in your eyes to check for signs of glaucoma, a condition that’s caused by fluids building up in the front of the eye. The machine used by your optometrist will blow a quick puff of air into your eyes. It can measure the fluid pressure in your eyes’ using its reaction and resistance to the pressure from the air puff. Note that diagnosing glaucoma can be difficult because the conditions progress slowly and the symptoms normally appear during the later stages of the condition, which is why it’s important to see your eye doctor for a routine eye examination.

How Often Should You See An Eye Doctor?

As mentioned earlier, patients with no known risk factors should undergo an eye examination every two years. However, the frequency of eye exams increases as you age or as your risk for certain diseases increases. In general, it’s recommended that those aged 20 to 39 should undergo an eye exam every five years, those aged 40 to 54 every 2 to 4 years, those aged 55 to 64 every 1 to 3 years, and those aged 65 and above every one to two years.

Looking for opticians near you?

Downtown Eyes offers a wide range of professional eye care services, including comprehensive eye examinations and Optos high-resolution retinal imaging services.

For more information what is retinal imaging, please get in touch with us!