I recently had the opportunity to sit in on an Optomap training session held at our Raleigh, New Bern Avenue location. The optomap is an ultra-wide digital retinal imaging system that helps your eye doctor make a thorough assessment of your eye and general health. I am no doctor, not even a technician for that matter, but as a patient I got to see first hand how this scan can impact your health, not just your eyes.
The presentation opened with doctors sharing stories of patients whose lives had been changed by having an Optos scan. Doctors were able to detect not only eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma, but also diseases like cancer, hypertension, and vein occulsions. One story in particular that struck me was about a 45 year old man who went to his eye doctor and had the Optos scan. His optometrist noticed that it looked like the patient was going to have a stroke . The patient immediately was referred to his neurologist. The neurologist concluded that the patient had nothing to worry about. Three weeks later the patient had a stroke. Fortunately, the patient survived the stroke and credits his optometrist and the Optomap for saving his life.
I realized how advanced this technology was when the presenter started showing images comparing Optomap to older technology. Our older camera showed a 30 degree angle of the back of the eye. The Optomap shows a 200 degree angle. The slit lamp that the doctor uses only shows a small portion of the inside of the eye. I volunteered to be a “test rat” for our technicians to practice. When I sat down with the doctor to review my image, he noticed two freckles that had not been detected in any previous exams. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about a freckle, but knowing that the Optomap was able to detect something that had gone unseen for so long was reassuring. Had that been a more serious eye condition or disease I may have had something to worry about.
I am glad I had the opportunity to sit in on the training. Each year when I go for my annual exam I will elect to have the Optomap scan performed. Unfortunately, most insurances do not cover the scan. It is a $39 charge for the patient. But to me, $39 seems like a small price to pay for a scan that can help find and prevent disease and maybe even save your life!