Expanding Technology Aids in Detection and Prevention of Eye Diseases and Disorders

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Harrisburg, PA (February 24, 2012) - To encourage Pennsylvania's citizens to protect their vision from preventable, treatable conditions, Governor Tom Corbett has declared March as Save Your Vision Month.

According to the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA), many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms, making a yearly comprehensive eye and vision exam the optimal way to maintain a lifetime of healthy vision and eyes. Today's doctors of optometry use the latest technologies to diagnose and treat patients. As part of Save Your Vision Month, the POA underscores how the different high-tech tests and procedures performed by an optometrist during an eye exam can benefit the patient. 

With the advanced technologies available to optometrists today, patients can expect a less invasive and highly accurate diagnostic experience during their eye exam. As a result, eye care is more innovative and effective than ever before.

Typically, patients associate a visit to the eye doctor with the Snellen eye chart test. While this traditional procedure to measure visual acuity along with pupil dilation continue to be used as a standard of care, new advances in eye care technology are becoming more prevalent in optometrists' offices. Corneal topography, retinal imaging, and tear film analyses are just a few examples of the new high-tech tools optometrists are incorporating into their practices.

The cornea is the most significant structure the eye uses for refractive power. To detect corneal irregularities due to disease, trauma or other factors that can result in distortion of vision, a new device called corneal topography is used. These systems evaluate the shape and regularity of the front surface of the eye. Not only are these devices faster and more compact than ever before, but they are also more robust and more affordable, making them available for routine patients and not just those with corneal issues. In addition to being used as a diagnostic tool, topography is often used for those patients wearing contact lenses to both assist in the initial fitting of contacts and for the detection of potential contact lens complications. 

To give an optometrist a view of the retina, several types of retinal imaging systems are used. These progressive technologies provide wide-angle views of the retina to help detect macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal holes or detachments as well as systemic diseases such as diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. These high-tech tools may be used in addition to pupil dilation, which gives the doctor more area of the eye to assess at one time.

Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions, characterized by insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. New advances in tear film analysis technologies, including computerized analysis of the tear lipid layer, allow optometrists to detect the cause of dry eye and identify the best course of treatment for a patient.

The American Optometric Association's guidelines for receiving comprehensive eye exams begin early in life. The POA urges parents to bring infants six to 12 months of age to their local optometrist for a an exam, and then again at age three and age five before entering kindergarten. Children and adults should receive comprehensive eye exams every one to two years, unless otherwise advised by an optometrist.

To find a doctor of optometry in your area, or for additional information on eye health, please see POA's Doctor Finder.   

About the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA):
The Pennsylvania Optometric Association is the professional organization for over 1,250 doctors of optometry in Pennsylvania. An affiliate of the American Optometric Association, POA promotes the highest quality eye and vision care by optometrists, represents optometry to state government, provides its members with post-graduate education and membership benefits, and conducts activities in the interest of the visual welfare of the public. For more information, visit www.poaeyes.org.

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.