The Optometrist Perspective by Harvey Yamamoto, OD

Harvey Yamamoto, OD

This year was the year of upgrading two piece of equipment but I found myself in much hesitation mood. Our 750 Humphries field testing machine was in perfect condition but it was time to upgrade as our unit was bought 15 years ago.

The second unit to upgrade was our beloved 4000 OCT unit. When I saw the newer 5000 OCT, I knew in my heart that I just had to have one. The 4000 was bought in Oct 2011 and was like brand new. The operating system was Windows XP and the newer unit was Windows 7. A huge upgrade in technology that caught my attention. The unit that we ordered was fully loaded and had two new software that made a lot of sense to me and my family.

Firstly, we wanted our unit that could cover 15mm of the anterior portion of the eye. This new system did that. Secondly, the newer unit had just come out with the Angio software which allowed us to look beneath the macula for leakage without the use of dye’s. We surmised that we have 40% of our patients with Diabetes and these are the patients who tend to have macula edema which can develop into wet AMD. Just the ability to be able to have the Angio portion of the software was enough reason to upgrade. Even with the generous trade-in, we ended up paying well into the 60’s. Wow. That was a lot of money for what we wanted.

Many years ago, we also decided to move our practice into the specialty contact lens arena. That involved upgrading to the 9000 topographer and that was money well spent. Every piece of upgrade has pushed our practice several rungs up on the ladder of technology. Last year, we upgraded our beloved Canon fundus camera to Kowa’s 3D fundus camera. We are enjoying the many benefits of that piece of equipment.

The ‘WoW’ factor cannot be dismissed in our practice. Our patients have become accustomed to having the best equipment available. On the next editorial, I will touch upon the many benefits of fitting Scleral lenses to our patients. Scleral lenses have added to the bottom line like no other lens to date. The referrals from these patients are almost essentially endless. More on that in the next issue.

The 5000 OCT provides us the a 15mm scan which we utilize on checking the fit of Scleral lenses on our patients. Sclerals are bringing in ton’s of new patients from all over the country. GP Specialists has the best Sclerals in the country (my opinion). It’s good as money in the bank. The fitting of scleral lenses on its’ own merit generates enough capital to pay for the 5000 OCT.

Each day that I walk into our practice, I am nearly overwhelmed by all the high tech equipment. We feel blessed that we can afford to bring these technologies to our patients. The fear of Glaucoma patients is now a thing of the past. We cannot fathom practicing without one of State of the Art equipment. The technology is advancing so quickly that even our new OCT with all the bells and whistles will become a thing of the past in a few more years.

We have had many patients return to us for more OCT’s for their family members and friends. It gives peace of mind to our patients as well as to our entire staff. 50+ years ago when I first came to our city, I never imagined that technology would become King in our practice.

Performing exams is a breeze. Our doctors have every available technology to call upon in the event of a questionable diagnosis. It all begin s with our fundus photo’s. When the photo’s are not in tune with what we would like to see then our doctors can call for a corneal topography, OCT scan, 3D photo, etc. at the snap of a finger. This year alone, our doctors have diagnosed dozens of Pseudo-Cerebri Tumor cases. These patients are forever grateful to us. Each case missed could have ended up in a malpractice suit.

So if you are procrastinating on whether to make that purchase, ‘Go for it’.

I can recall many years ago when a colleague insisted that I purchase an LCD eyechart. At that time, I had just purchased 3 state of the art eye projectors by American Optical. It had all the slides that I had ever wanted. It had a large keyboard with all the slides listed. All I had to do was push the button of the slide that I wanted and then the projector would made a sound like dud, dud, dud, until it found the slide that I wanted. It was really cool and great technology.

Thus I was very hesitant to purchase a screen that was loaded with all the slides mounted inside. It was a computerized eyechart. I was old fashioned and my colleague kept pleading for me to upgrade just one exam room. He offered to pay. I finally caved in and bought my first computerized eye chart. All I can say was:Thankyou.’ What a difference in clarity and quickness. Just a touch of a handheld control, I could bring up the screen in seconds. No more dud, dud, dud, sounds echoing off the walls. Technology had arrived. Before the week was gone, I was on the phone ordering 2 more computerized eyecharts.

The Wow factor was born in our practice and we can safely say that we have never looked back. About the same time frame, we purchased surfacing equipment so provide our patients one day turn around. That was a huge investment of time and money. I had to learn how to grind lenses. That process took 3 months to master. What followed over the years was more high tech grinding equipment. Just like in the exam room, the grinding equipment was also making leaps and bounds.

With a few more years, patternless edgers were introduced and once again, I resisted until I finally caved in a few years later. The time savings was huge not to mention the errors going down. Then the auto tracing machines began to materialize. Then the modernized blocking machines hit the market. Manufacturing lenses has become a simple process today. In our practice, my wife is in charge and she can surface a pair of lenses as well as the best of the best. Computerization is here to stay.

In 2000, a close colleague began to tell me about a machine that cost $100,000 and that I should look into purchasing one for our practice. He told me that he would be missing ton’s of pathology if he did not have one. The machine was called OCT. Thus in 2003, we purchased our first OCT machine. It was extremely difficult to learn. After many lessons, the unit just sat in the corner gathering dust. We then upgraded in 2011 the 4000 OCT. What a difference? It was like night and day. We just had to click buttons and the eye would come into focus and we had the results in seconds. Now we are on our 3 OCT and the technology is mind blowing. So do yourself and your patients a favor. Stop procrastinating and make that purchase before you get too old to enjoy the new toy.

Have Fun,



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