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Stop Blinding People With Eye Exams
Restrict fluorescein angiography to cases of absolute necessity for exact diagnosis, and limit slit lamp examinations to 20 seconds or less.
Why is this important?
Optical coherence tomography (OCT), a kind of “optical sonar” using invisible light) and nonmydriatic photography (requiring little or no dilation and a soft light flash) are helping to relieve eye patients’ fear of discomfort and possible photothermal damage from the bright flashes of fluorescein angiography (FA).
Fortunately, since OCT and nonmyd imaging have grown more common, patients are less frequently exposed to the bright flashes of FA. When they are, it is either because their doctors have not yet made the switch or because OCT and nonmyd cameras cannot provide sufficient information.
Another commonly-used instrument is a high-intensity slit lamp, with which the doctor scans the interior of the eye with a thin sheet of light. Since exposure of the retina is less than FA, it is more comfortable for patients, and it poses less risk to the tissue. A slit lamp is not a perfect solution to the issues of discomfort and photothermal damage, but if limited to less than 20 seconds of exposure, it is at least acceptable for obtaining a full view of the interior segments.
While caring doctors have relieved many patients of the burden of unnecessary FA and lengthy slit lamp exams, a number of patients are still suffering from needless high intensity light exposure. As more doctors make the transition to updated imaging options, and as even better methods are developed for quicker, safer, and less unpleasant techniques, a greater number of patients may start showing up for their important annual exams. This, in addition to the benefits to the clinical practice, could very well boost the success rates of early diagnosis and treatment.
Until eye patients are universally offered the best available technology, we must insist that all eye specialists practice the safest and least invasive protocols.
For more information about this issue, visit http://lowvision.preventblindness.org/therapies-treatments-and-procedures/bright-flash-retinal-photography-a-thing-of-the-past/