The Eyes Have It – New Diagnostic Technology Eliminates Need for Drops

                Remember when going to the eye doctor meant suffering for hours afterwards while the effect of those drops you dreaded wore off and you were able to see clearly again?

                Those days may be history, according to a respected local optometrist who employs new technology called Optomap to look inside the retina, detecting any abnormality that would be a warning sign of a separated retina or other disorder, including common physical conditions not readily associated with eye problems.

“Who among us has not suffered that awful feeling of feeling fear because having an annual eye exam meant suffering through the after-effect of dilation drops? While the drops make it easier for the examining physician to see the condition or your retina, they make it impossible for you to see straight for up to two hours afterward while going that route has not been necessary for several years,” said Dr. Fendt Shearer.

Dr. Shearer, who opened a practice dedicated to cutting-edge optometry services six years ago, wants patients to know how technology is changing the world of eye exams and the treatment of vision-related conditions.

“When I struck out on my own after several years with a highly respected ophthalmologist in Nassau, the goal was to take the practice to a new level where we would use all available technology to make the patient experience as comfortable, convenient and accurate as possible and wearing glasses or contact lenses something patients would enjoy,” said Dr. Shearer. “If they could take the pain and fear out of going to the dentist, I knew we could accomplish even greater results going to the eye doctor.”

The practice, called LENSES and located on Rose Street off Mackey Street next to KFC, is more reminiscent of an Apple store than a doctor’s office. For patients trying on glasses, they can project what different frames would look like through iPad images, much like a CAD program. Exams take technology a step further.

Instead of lining up to endure drops that leave the patient fuzzy-eyed while the doctor probes, the patient pulls up a chair, Dr. Shearer puts the scanner next to the eye and in less than a minute, the scan provides a more complete analysis than traditional dilation methods permit.

“The Nikek AFC 330 works by scanning and mapping inside the retina, providing several advantages over the invasive dilation method,” explained Dr. Shearer. “In addition to patient convenience and comfort, it allows us to keep a digital record of the eye’s condition so we have the ability to compare with great accuracy over time.”

The health of the retina, says Dr. Shearer, is also a clue to other health conditions.

“They say the eyes are the window to the soul,” he said. “That may be the romantic interpretation. Like others in the medical profession, I prefer to let people know that the retina can also provide important information about general health conditions including hypertension, diabetes, risk of stroke and even melanomas.” The reason, he explained, is because the retina is packed with arteries, veins and blood vessels that reflect the general health of those vascular structure of the patient’s body.

“The average Bahamian does not hesitate to take his car to the mechanic for a tune-up but will procrastinate when it comes time for a medical exam of any kind,” said Dr. Shearer, who earned his degree from Nova Southeastern, is licensed to practice in The Bahamas and is a member of the Amrican Optometric Association. “It is my hope that by knowing modern eye exams are painless more people will do what could benefit their sight and, potentially, save their lives.”