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How My Palatine Optometry Practice Has Changed Since the ‘80s

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Back in 1984 when I started my practice in Arlington Hts., I never would have expected to be practicing Optometry like I do today. Now that’s not to say that I don’t have to ask, “Which is better, 1 or 2?”. It’s just that when I do perform the vision part of my exam I now use a digital refracting instrument and a monitor instead of a manual device and a bulb projected chart of letters. This makes the test faster and easier with less guesswork on the part of our patients.

When it comes to evaluating the back of the eye for diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, and damage like retinal holes and tears; I no longer need to depend upon annoying dilating eyedrops. By using the Optomap Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope, we are one of only about 5000 practices worldwide to be able to take a 200 degree digital image of the retina. That’s essentially, a scan that’s coast to coast and border to border; in 4 different diagnostic views.

For the first 16 years that I treated children, there was nothing I could do to help keep their eyes from becoming more nearsighted each year. Like many eye doctors, I would just tell the parents that we would need to increase the prescription for their glasses and hope that there would be no change the following year. Of course, a year later the child’s eyes would be more myopic and again we’d make stronger glasses.

In April 2000, I fit my first patient in Orthokeratology corneal reshaping molds. I’m proud to say, he is still on the program as an adult.  In order to do this correctly, we installed the Medmont corneal topographer to accurately map out the front surface of the eye and design molds for myopia management OrthoK.

Our Palatine practice is known internationally via my lecturing to other doctors wishing to learn this specialty. And locally I am known as the “OrthoK Doc” who helps children maintain their vision.

In my early years of practice, we would wiggle a light in front of our patients and observe the red reflection that you may have seen shining back in flash photography. Today, we use an Auto-Refractor/Keratometer to quickly measure the eye’s visual needs, the center of front surface of the eye, distortions of the eye that cause difficulty seeing even with 20/20 vision, contrast sensitivity, glare testing, and key elements for Dry Eye assessment.

And speaking of Dry Eye. Not that long ago, the best treatment most eye doctors could do for Dry Eye was to recommend some sort of eye drop and bid you a fond farewell. We all know that if Dry Eye was as easy to fix as a simple eyedrop, no eye doctor would ever hear a complaint about dryness. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Dry Eye is caused by either not enough tears being produced or most commonly, poor quality tears that evaporate quickly (or even a combination of both problems). Dry Eye can also be related to our age, gender, medications, personal habits, and general health. So, because the causes of Dry Eye are multifactorial and we are not typically able to change gender and age, the treatment be multidimensional as well.

Back in 2007, I ran a study called S.H.A.D.E. or the System Holistic Approach to Dry Eye. In this study, we demonstrated the effectiveness of a technique to improve common symptoms of Dry Eye. Specifically, dryness, burning, tearing, redness, fluctuating vision, and feelings of sand in the eyes.

The heart of this technique is to gently heat the eyelids from 98.6 to 108 degrees. The reason for this is there approximately 60 meibomian glands inside each upper and lower lid pair that produce oils that float on top of your tears and prevent rapid evaporation of the tear film. Like oil left in the ‘fridge, you need to make these oils warm to make it flow freely. With better oil quality comes a decrease of Dry Eye symptoms.

We now use a two-step approach to do this. First, we recommend three in-office MiBo Thermoflotreatments. This spa-like visit takes place in our new exam room. Next, we have our Dry Eye patients also heat their lids at home typically before bed using the very convenient, MiBo Mask. Although there is no cure for Dry Eye, the holistic approach we take to fix Dry Eye symptoms is very safe and effective.

There are certainly other improvements we’ve made in our practice over the last 34 years. These include bringing on technical staff who have formal medical assistant training, adding in blue light protection to eyeglasses to reduce the harmful effects from tablets and flat panels on the eye, and even our Eyewear Patio which was custom designed to mirror some of the architectural elements of downtown Palatine.

For an opportunity to see an Optometric practice that not only looks different but also treats you different, just call (847) 705-7777 to schedule an appointment.