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Military

New eye exam technology improves productivity

by Brandice Armstrong
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


12/20/2007 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN)  -- Air Force Materiel Command officials provided the 72nd Medical Group here with an early Christmas present, a new piece of optometry equipment that is saving the Air Force lost man-hours.

The Optos 2000, a low-powered scanning laser ophthalmoscope, is eliminating the need to dilate a patient's eyes for an exam. Officials project the device will save more than 72,000 hours each year in lost production and downtime.

"This is so important for our flying population," said Maj. (Dr.) Judy Manno, The Optometry Services Flight commander and practicing optometrist. "When we put in drops to dilate and check the retina, it precludes flying duty for 24 hours, which is a lot of downtime when you add it all up."

Capt. Jade Texcell, a 72nd MDG optometrist, said in particular, about 3,000 Tinker Air Force Base flyers will benefit from this technological advancement.

"The Optos digitally scans the retina, the interior lining of the eyeball, (and) creates an Optomap, a digitalized image of the retina," Captain Texcell said. "Since no dilating drops are required, the patient can drive home, return to work, and aircrew members (can fly)."

Once the digital image of the retina uploads, which takes mere minutes, doctors and technicians can determine retinal lesions and spot early signs of diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal tears.

"If we didn't dilate the pupil or do a scan and you looked through an un-dilated pupil, that's all you would see, about 20 percent of the retina," Dr. Manno said. "With the scanner and without dilation, you can see the whole thing, up to a 200-degree field."

Optos will not entirely eliminate the need for dilations. Initial dilated eye exams are required, as well as updates every three to four years. But, the Optomap Retinal Exam can be used in the years in between.

The Optomap Retinal Exam does not hurt and takes only seconds to do, Captain Texcell said.

"Nothing touches the eye," she said. "It is a safe procedure, which all patients including children, can have in order to ensure there are no unknown problems of the eye."



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