VISUAL ACUITIES - Am I getting a good eye exam? 

by Gabe R Monday, May 02, 2011
How does the average person know . . . I mean, really know . . . that they are getting a good eye exam? Well, I’m embarking on a series of blogs to give an insider’s point of view . . . THE ABRIDGED VERSION. I can go on and on and on, and THE LONG VERSION would allow you to pass an Optometry national board exam. So I won’t go there.

In this second installment, we’ll address . . . VISUAL ACUITIES.

After the case history (see Eye Exam Part I), one of the most basic measurements taken is your visual acuity; that is, how well each eye sees a chart – at distance and near, with or without corrective eyewear. You know the drill . . . . “Can you read these letters for me?” It seems mundane. A lot of eye care professionals actually delegate this task to a technician. But, I learned early in my career that visual acuities – well taken – are critical to ensuring an accurate spectacle correction. And isn’t that what we all want? Glasses that are just right? Not too strong. Not too weak.

As a patient, it is good to realize that a good visual acuity result is a thresholdmeasurement. That means that the tester is looking for the finest detail your visual system can resolve. She’s probably even going to push a little and ask you to guess at something you’ve already stated you cannot see . . . , and that’s okay. That is one clue that you’re getting a good eye exam.

During my rookie year of professional Optometry, I was having trouble keeping up with the 20 minute appointments, so I asked for advice. One of my mentors and a colleague atKaiser Permanente in Vallejo, CA – Dr. Peter Catanich – spoke fondly of his early career as a WWII Army Optometrist and the rapid-fire eye exams he performed in a high volume, severe time constraint situation. “All I needed was a good case history, a measurement of their current glasses, precise visual acuities, and I pretty much knew what to prescribe . . . . It’s amazing how you can make do with the time you’re given,Grasshopper.” No, he didn’t say Grasshopper. Well . . . maybe he did. But the point is . . . to an astute clinician, visual acuities are pretty darn important because they actually reveal more information than one would expect. And as I learned from Dr. Pete, take the time to do it well, and accurate results will be your reward.

Incidentally, the other advice Dr. Catanich gave me was for marketing glasses. It turns out he spent ample time in the Philippine Islands during WWII, so he picked up some nuances of our language and culture. “Gabe, you need to put up a huge neon sign . . , Eyeglasses Mura Mura“, he exclaimed with jazz hands emphatically opening to the rhythm of eachMura. (Pronounced MOO rah . . . Tagalog for “cheap“.) Every time we crossed paths, it was Pete fading in or out, coming or going down a long corridor – repeating the neon sign – sprinkled with chuckles under his breath. Eyeglasses Mura Mura. Hmmmmm . . . ? Kinda has a nice ring to it. I miss that guy.


If you looking for an Optometrist in Hercules CA or an Eye Doctor in Pinole CA don't hesitate to Optometry By The Bay!

General | Categories: health
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