The Oculus Pentacam: My Personal Experience
Brookside Optometric Group recently acquired a new scanning device to increase the effectiveness of our care for our patients. The Oculus Pentacam is an amazing device that can measure the parameters of every anatomical structure in the eye up to the retina. Combining this device with our Optical Coherence Tomagrapher (OCT)—which analyzes the individual cellular levels of the retina—we now have the ability to determine the root cause of all visual problems that are anatomically linked within the eye.
Whenever a new device is brought into our office, the doctors meet to be properly trained on the instrument. We learn how to use the device and practice on each other to become familiar with its use.
One of the features that the Pentacam measures is whether or not a patient can safely have LASIK surgery to remove their need for glasses or contacts. Four criteria need to be met to know if LASIK surgery is safe: A patient needs a stable prescription, a safe corneal thickness, and enough corneal curvature for the prescription and to have no shape imperfections to the inner corneal surface. Without a Pentacam, the last criteria cannot be measured.
I have often personally pondered whether or not I wanted to have the LASIK procedure. I knew that I have a very easy prescription to treat and that my corneal curvature and thickness is also well within safety limits for treatment. I was very interested in having my eyes scanned to learn more about my suitability.
The scan took less than 10 seconds and was as simple as looking at a target as a blue line of light spun in front of my eye. After both eyes were done our trainer opened the report for LASIK suitability and I had the surprise of my life. As I had previously stated, I knew my curvature was great and my thickness was excellent but the report showed a major corneal distortion on my inner cornea that would have lead to either a permanent destabilization of my cornea and therefore my vision or possibly created the need for a corneal transplant if I had ever had LASIK surgery. No other tests or visual exams had ever indicated that my eyes had this condition and yet it was there. My personal scan made me a believer in the need to have this piece of equipment in our office.
All of my partners were surprised by this outcome but then we were doubly surprised when yet another doctor in our practice had the same exact outcome as I had. All of us became believers in this technology after that training!
I should say that neither the other doctor nor I have any issues with our vision due to these inner corneal distortions and will each have a lifetime of wonderful sight as long as we never have the LASIK surgery performed.
I have enclosed my scans with this blog to show patients how easy it is to see this problem. In my scan, you see a large red area within a green circle on the lower left portion of the scan. This is the area of distortion that would have put me at risk if I ever had the LASIK surgery. This red area is actually a read out of the inner surface of the cornea—this type of information has never been available to us before.
The device also provides us with a myriad of reports on other structures of the eyes. We can determine if a patient is prone to a form of glaucoma that is instantaneous and painful when it occurs, measure cataract progression, measure for corneal degenerations, and more.
In the weeks since we have had this device we have referred out several patients for issues that had previously eluded us. The Oculus Pentacam has become indispensable to us at our practice.
The Oculus Company has informed us that we are the only optometric office within northern California to have invested in this device. I for one am very glad we did. This investment quite possibly may have saved my eyesight had I ever opted for LASIK surgery for myself.