Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Why the exclamation point? Keep reading.

[I'm listening to Rodriguez's album Cold Fact while I write this. I demand you purchase this album immediately, as it is one of the greatest albums of its or any time.]

I went for my eye checkup today.

I always dread this, because getting your eyes dilated is a giant pain in the butt. Driving home with black sunglasses because your eyes are so sensitive to light, not being able to work for a few hours, and just the general strange feeling in your eyes is definitely not anywhere on my bucket list.

Today, though, it was completely different.

My ophthalmologist had a new device called "Optomap". It's a machine that takes an ultra-high resolution picture of your eye.

Previously, the standard technique your ophthalmologist would use involved seeing your eye in sections. My doctor said it was like using a flashlight to look in a darkened room. He saw a 10%, rectangular slit of my eye, then he had to move the "flashlight" to another section. Plus, all these sections were upside down as he viewed them. So to get a complete picture of the eye, he had to visually assemble ten different images in his mind. It was as much art as science, and he said it takes quite a lot of experience to do it well.

Now, though, he can see the eye in one image, at a higher resolution. And he can even separate the image by layers.

Here's the picture he took of my right eye:

He could zoom in on any part of this image and see it in much greater detail. It was amazing, and he even showed me a few pictures of eyes with macular degeneration. He also said there were two kinds of macular degeneration--"dry" and "wet". "Wet" degeneration is caused by leaking blood vessels, and there's a treatment for that now that is remarkably effective. Since it's new blood vessels that are leaking, a drug is used to stop those new blood vessels from forming.

Great, right? Well, here's the downside: it requires a monthly injection. Into your eye. Agghhhhh.

Even with this new technology, there are certain situations where dilation is still required, but it wasn't for me, and walking out of my appointment much sooner than normal, without pupils the size of basketballs, was a real pleasure. So if your eye doctor has this available, you might want to check it out.

Oh, and I took a picture of a poster in his office that shows images of different types of eye diseases as seen through Optomap images. You'll need to click to enlarge, but it's very cool (sorry for the reflections):

You can also do a Google image search on "Optomap" and see all kinds of interesting images.

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