Column: Optical tech Part 3: MD screenings


Commentary by Dr. Kim Hall

In this third (and final) column exploring pre-testing equipment at the optometrist’s office, we would like to uncover two more tests you may encounter. Both are significant in detecting early forms of macular degeneration and other ocular diseases.

Another flicker/clicker-type machine now exists, similar to the visual field I wrote about last week. It is called the macular pigment optical density tester, or MPOD. This flicker varies in intensity, is circular and is mostly in the center of your field of view. It is measuring the amount of protective pigment you have in your macula based on the sensitivity at which you can detect various wavelengths of light.

This is very important to know as we have learned that blue light coming from all our devices may also be damaging to our eyes. The sun is no longer the only offender! When this value starts decreasing, we must consider measures to boost up the good pigment that absorbs these harmful high energy short wavelengths of the light spectrum. Similar to sunscreen, the more pigment and protection we have, the better.

Here’s a fancy name for another pre-test: optical coherence tomography. This machine has been around for some time now but was mainly utilized by specialists during diagnosis and treatment of many eye diseases. It allows the retina, and other structures of the eye, to be viewed cross sectionally at a microscopic level. In other words, it is like slicing through a piece of lasagna to view all the layers.

It is now becoming standard of care, and OCT may even become part of the screening process in your pre-test room. Why shouldn’t it? It is the best anatomic map and pulls the puzzle pieces together when viewing all of the images of the surface of the eye. You will know you are behind the power of the OCT when the AI of the machine itself begins giving you instructions.

We hope these brief intros to optical tech can give you a better understanding of all of the details and importance that go into your eye exam pre-testing instruments.

Yes, there is a lot more that goes into your annual eye exam than the question, “Is it better, 1 or 2?”

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