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Posted on 05-24-2017

Technically Speaking: What Do the HBR Optical Technicians Do for You?

Like many careers out there, unless you’re in the field, what precisely someone “does” may be unclear.  At HBR we’re proud of what each and every member of our team contributes to your experience as a whole, and we thought you might be interested in knowing more about the people who shepherd you through each visit and why they do what they do.  (Like that eye-puff test—what even IS that?  Spoiler alert:  You’ll soon find out.)  In this article, we’ll discuss the wide variety of tests our optical technicians may run on you and what can be learned from the results. 

Auto-refractor: This machine estimates your prescription and gives your doctor a potential map of the topography of your cornea as well as measuring your cornea.  

Non-contact tonometer: The non-contact tonometer provides a pressure reading of the inside of your eye.  It can be used to screen for a number of conditions, but if most often associated with diagnosis and management of glaucoma. Also, this is the eye-puff test.  See, there is a reason they do it—they’re not just testing your reflexes. 

Frequency Doubling Technology (FDT): This peripheral vision test points out any larger blind spots in your visual field. 

Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD): The MPOD measures the density of your macular pigment.  Since macular acts almost as a built-in sunscreen for your eyes, it helps block harmful light from reaching of the back of your eye—not just UV light, but also blue light such as that from a cell phone or tablet.  A low MPOD score is one of several indicators for macular degeneration, which makes it a very important test indeed. 

Fundus camera: Our fundus camera projects light through the pupil and takes a picture of the retinal tissue in the back of your eye.  We compare this year’s image to those from previous years to create a baseline for change.  It’s also helpful in tracking the progress of sports-related eye injuries or systemic eye disorders such as hypertension or diabetes.  (This is also the time when we’d like to put in a plug for yearly eye exams…ahem.  We can’t create that baseline if you don’t give us a good sampling.)

Optical coherence tomography (OCT): The OCT scans through the layers of your retinal tissue looking for abnormalities.  Our techs also use it to measure the thickness of your cornea. 

Visual field test: A larger version of the FDT, this machine comprehensively tests your field of vision and maps out any blind spots or areas of decreased sensitivity. 

Color vision testing: Your tech will ask you to read through the color test book as a means of screening for specific color vision deficiencies.  If necessary, he/she will administer a more comprehensive color vision screening call the “Farsworth Munsell Hue Test,” which identifies less common forms of color vision deficiencies.  Decreased color vision is much more common in men than in women (1 in 12 men vs. 1 in 200 women), so color vision testing is especially important for young boys.  

Once this battery of test is finished (and remember, you may take complete every single test at each visit—gender, age, and family history are all factors in determining which tests you complete at each visit), your tech will escort you to an exam room where he/she will test your blood pressure, review your health history and medications, and test your visual acuity.  (This is the quintessential “eye-exam,” the part where you read the chart.)  All of the information they have gathered is entered in to our computer system and any images taken are put on the screen for your doctor to review.  Then it’s time for him/her to grab your doctor for your full exam! 

UP NEXT IN THE SERIES:  Why is that health history and lifestyle questionnaire soooo comprehensive?  (We’re workshopping the title—it’ll be better when you see the full article…)  In the meantime, if you have any more in depth questions about the tests our technicians perform and wonder you are or aren’t taking a particular test, please feel free to ask us.  We’re all passionate about our jobs, and we love to answer questions!

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