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Early Detection: The key to reducing vision loss and blindness

Often people who visit the optometrist expect to be prescribed glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision, but a visit to the optometrist is so much more than that. With the latest scanning and imaging equipment in optometry practices, eye diseases can often be detected early enough to receive treatment to reduce the risk of vision loss and blindness. Eye diseases including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can be screened and monitored more accurately with the latest imaging equipment. An early referral to a surgical eye doctor , if required, can prevent irreversible vision damage.

Some diagnostic imaging can also help in the detection of general health conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and some brain tumours. In these instances, early detection and referral to a patient’s GP or health-care provider often result in earlier treatment.

What are these tests?

Retinal photography: A special camera photographs the retina at the back of the eye. The camera has different filters to examine different layers of the retina for a more thorough examination.

Visual fields examination: This test is designed to find out how well your central and peripheral (side) vision is functioning. Visual field tests reveal how sensitive your vision is by asking you to detect lights of different brightness in different positions.

Optical coherence tomography: A laser scan is used to take a cross-sectional image of the retina so that the optometrist can see all the detail within the separate layers of the retina.

Corneal topography: This equipment is used to take a map of the cornea, the front surface of the eye. It measures how steep or flat the cornea is and is commonly used to ensure contact lenses fit well.

What do these tests show?

Different tests and images are required depending on what your optometrist is looking for in an eye test, your family history or your symptoms. Here are some examples of where an image can help your optometrist to detect, assess and manage aspects of your eye health:

  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Strokes
  • Brain tumours
  • Retinal detachment
  • Keratoconus – cone-shaped cornea
  • Pre- and post-refractive laser surgery
  • Contact lens fitting

Why are these tests important?

Sometimes the only way to tell if you have an eye condition is through an eye examination. Scans and imaging are cutting-edge techniques to make sure your eyes are healthy. If an eye disease such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy is detected, regular eye examinations and reviews with scans and photographs are often required.

What will these tests cost me?

Most scans and imaging tests are not eligible for a Medicare rebate and are usually charged at the discretion of your optometrist. The optometrist performs these scans or images because they are in your best interest to rule out an eye health condition or to help record changes to your eye over time. The optometrist will advise you why you need a scan or image and the cost involved. They can give you a copy of the image or results if you request it. Some visual fields tests are eligible for a Medicare rebate and your optometrists can tell you when this applies to you.

For more information and help to select the treatments that meet all your eye care and lifestyle needs, ask your optometrist on (02) 6152 8585 or book here

Culled from

Author: Juliet Menakaya, O.D MPH

CANBERRA OPTOMETRIST Juliet obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria in 2006. She completed an internship programme before migrating to Australia, where she completed a master’s degree in public health at the University of Sydney in 2014. Following this, Juliet obtained a Master of Orthoptics from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2017. Juliet has completed her competency in optometry examination with OCANZ (Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand), and obtained her ophthalmic prescribing rights from ACO (Australian College Of Optometry Victoria). Juliet has worked in various positions, including retail Optometry, the Ophthalmology Department at Canberra Hospital, and more recently, at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (ANU). As a dedicated Canberra optometrist, Juliet is passionate about helping people with low vision, and binocular vision anomalies hence her interests in Low Vision Rehabilitation, Eccentric Viewing Training and Paediatric optometry.