When you visit your optometrist for an annual eye exam, you are put through a variety of tests to check for any number of conditions related to your eyes: nearsightedness, farsightedness, glaucoma, color blindness, retinal detachment, and loss of peripheral vision.
Thanks to technology called Optomap retinal imaging, your eye doctor can uncover several health problems that could otherwise go undetected. The Optomap provides your doctor with a digital ultra-widefield, high definition view of your retina (see image). Retinal imaging provides a closer look at the blood vessels located at the back of the eye, the optic nerve, macula, and the retinal tissue. This imaging can provide an early diagnosis of glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, melanoma, macular degeneration and many other systemic and ocular conditions.
In addition to these eye-related conditions, psychological scientists are discovering that retinal imaging can provide insight into the health of your brain. According to a study published by the Association for Psychological Science, the size of the blood vessels in your eyes may be linked with IQ and cognitive function.
The study reveals that
Retinal blood vessels share similar size, structure, and function with blood vessels in the brain and can provide a way of examining brain health in living humans. Individuals who had wider retinal venules [the very small blood vessels in your eyes] showed evidence of general cognitive deficits, with lower scores on numerous measures of neurospsychological functioning, including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and executive function.
Although your optometrists will not be evaluating your IQ when they use retinal imaging to examine the health of your eyes, they will look for signs of an onset of retinal disorders. Although Optomap retinal imaging is an elective test, it is recommended for everyone. For best results, your doctor should take a baseline image when you are a new patient so that he or she can check annually for changes alerting them to problems even before you experience any noticeable symptoms. With early detection through retinal imaging, you can prevent long-term effects including vision loss. At your next visit to All About Eyes, ask Dr. Dave and Dr. Cheryl about how they use retinal imaging to help their patients.