Column: Making sense of the machines


Commentary by Dr. Kim Hall

Have you ever wondered what those new crazy machines at the eye doctor do?

It seems that these days, when you go to the optometrist, the pretest room has become more crowded than NASA HQ as you are asked to put your face into yet another machine. What in the world does each instrument tell about your eyes? Technology has certainly evolved over the years!

Let’s begin with the gold standard tests. Everyone has been asked to watch that farmhouse or hot air balloon as it goes in and out of focus. Luckily, we live in Indiana, so those targets are appropriate! This machine measures the curvature of the front part of your eye, along with the length of your eye, and in turn gives a starting point for your refractive state, a.k.a., glasses prescription. The target going in/out of focus simply serves to keep your focusing system in a relaxed state, which results in a more accurate prescription.

You may be seeing less and less of that air puff test. The “archaic torture chamber” actually measures the speed at which the air bounces off the front part of your eye, and that tells us how hard your eye is and how much pressure is inside of it. That test has been dreaded for ages, and, thankfully, smart optical engineers have been listening. It has evolved into a new and improved handheld device that measures your eye pressure with a super tiny probe that – yes – does actually touch your eye, but it is super tiny and so fast you truly don’t even feel it. I’m almost nervous to share that secret, as I may have ruined the mystique.

I have many more technologies to share about in upcoming editions. Stay tuned for parts two and three coming up soon in Current in Carmel.

Dr. Kim Hall is an optometrist at RevolutionEYES. She graduated from Purdue University in 1999 and the Indiana University School of Optometry in 2005.