I went to the doctor to have my eyes examined on Monday the twenty-first. It had been two years since I had had an exam and it was time, if for no other reason than to check for glaucoma. As it turns out, my “dress” glasses, meaning the ones I wear everyday when I go out of the house, the trifocals without the lines, weren’t working for me as well as they used to. I need them to see things at a distance while I’m driving, to a restaurant for instance, but once I get to the restaurant those same glasses don’t work as well as they used to because I now find reading the menu to be difficult. So I was due for an eye exam for that reason as well. It turns out that I do need a new prescription, which I am having filled … for $480.50 (ouch!).
While I was there, I discovered that they have a new tool or process called an Optomat. (I’m not sure which the term refers to.) Previously the doctor would dilate your eyes and get very close to your face while looking through some instrument at the back of your eye and he would inspect the retina, the macula, and the blood vessels for any abnormalities. The Optomat obviates the need for dilation. So when you walk out of the office and drive home, your vision isn’t blurred like it used to be. That’s one reason why the Optomat is better than the previous procedure. Another is that it results in a digital photograph of the back of each eye which can serve as a baseline record that can be compared over time with a current photograph to detect changes from exam to exam. Also if you should happen to change doctors, these photographic records can be emailed to your new doctor.
I found the photographs to be fascinating, both because I could now see what the doctor had been looking at when he was peering into my eyes and because it shows how digital technology is making further inroads into another area of medical science. I asked the doctor whether his office could also email me a copy of the photographs of my eyes, and he said they could. In fact, if you’d like to “look deeply into my eyes” you can see my right eye here and my left eye here.
On the Flickr site where those pictures are stored, you can click on the “All Sizes” link above each picture to see a larger version of them, if you really want to look deeply and there is even a link to an “Original” size to see the picture at maximum resolution. The greenish, yellow center is where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. The dark patch to the side of the yellow spot is the macula. And the lines that look like “highways” are the veins (darker) and the arteries in my eyes. The pictures are sort of creepy, I know, but I found them interesting.