15 Awesome Benefits of Optomap (Including Why We Recommend It)
Updated: May 16
Did you know the inside of your eyeball, on the back (i.e. your retina) is the only place in the body where your blood vessels can be seen directly? Pretty cool, right?! Even cooler, optomap is now available at Northlake Eye!
What is optomap?
Optomap is a unique technology that captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic image! This is the same area (the retina) that your eye doctor looks at when they dilate and look inside of your eyes.
History of optomap
Optomap first became available in the US in 1999 and is now being used in almost 13,000 eye doctor offices worldwide.
This amazing technology gives our doctors a comprehensive, ultra-widefield view that is not possible with traditional imaging methods. Also, optomap provides a historical record of your retinal health, allowing us to track and monitor any changes in your retina, year over year.
Why is this important? The light-sensitive tissue that makes up your retina is susceptible to a variety of diseases and is essential to detect problems early on. Also, because we can see your blood vessels, we may also be able to detect other health issues based on what we see in your eye!
Optomap vs dilation for healthy eyes what is the difference?
Optomap is a 200-degree image of your retina, which is captured in under ½ second. There is no pain, discomfort, or blurry vision associated with getting an optomap image taken. Not to mention, there are many other benefits of an optomap eye exam (see below).
On the other hand, during a dilated eye exam, your eyes are dilated with eye drops that may sting. This process leads to blurry vision up close that often lasts for 4 - 6 hours. After your eyes are dilated, which can take up to 30 minutes, your eye doctor will use specialized equipment and lenses to look into the back of your eye. Below are 15 awesome benefits of getting optomap digital retinal imaging.
1) Optomap allows our doctors to provide you with the most comprehensive eye exam possible
As mentioned above, it provides us with a 200 degree or 82% view of the retina and has incredible tools to help us best monitor your eye health over time! This includes enlargement and isolation of specific areas as well as side by side comparisons of past images.
2) Optomap may allow you to skip dilation
If you elect to get the optomap, and don't have any retinal disease symptoms or risk factors, there is a very good chance you will not need to be dilated.
Note: In some cases our doctors may recommend the optomap AND dilation to complete their evaluation of the retina.
3) Optomap is safe, sanitary, and instantaneous
This procedure is very safe and sanitary, as our team cleans the device with alcohol wipes between each patient. Also, it only takes 1/2 second to capture an optomap image that will be immediately available for interpretation by our doctors.
4) Optomap is a very comfortable, painless procedure
In case you forgot, dilation stings (ouch)! The optomap does not. However, as mentioned previously, dilation and/or optomap may be required based on the doctor’s evaluation of your retina.
5) Optomap can be done on patients of all ages
Our eye care team has experience taking optomap photos on thousands of patients. This includes toddlers, kids, young adults, adults, and senior citizens.
6) Optomap gives you the opportunity to learn about your own eye health
Our doctors LOVE to educate patients on their overall eye health. Optomap images are another wonderful tool to help us do so.
7) Optomap does not impact your vision
Have important plans after your eye exam? Dilation will leave you with blurry vision up close that often lasts for 4 - 6 hours. During this time, you will also be sensitive to light. However, as mentioned previously, dilation and/or optomap may be required based on the doctor’s evaluation of your retina.
8) Optomap is the ultimate tool to ensure the health of your eyes – and maybe your overall health
Did you know that most retinal disorders do not cause pain or other symptoms? When detected early enough, many retinal problems can be treated to avoid vision loss. Once a retinal problem causes a loss in vision, it's rarely reversible. As a result, early detection is vital to preserving good eye health. Also, some non-eye related conditions may be identified based on your optomap image.
9) Optomap is the best way to monitor change in your eye health over time (i.e. prevention)
Why? A picture is worth 1000 words! Optomap technology allows our doctors to compare past year's photos side by side.
10) Optomap can be safely done on women who are pregnant
For the safety of your baby's development, our doctors prefer not to dilate pregnant women (unless absolutely necessary).
11) Optomap assists in the detection of eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and MUCH more
Our eye doctors are residency trained and have detected countless eye diseases through optomap retinal imaging.
12) Optomap saves you time
If dilation is not required because it can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully dilate.
13) Optomap can be used to see more of your retina
With a single optomap image we can capture up to 82% of your retina (as compared to 15-60% with a traditional imaging device). And, if we need to, our technicians can take directional optomap photos to zone in on areas our doctors want to evaluate further.
14) You can take a picture of your optomap from your phone
This way you can share it with family, colleagues, or friends as well as keep it for your own personal records
Note: We can also email you a copy of your optomap photo at your request.
15) Optomap becomes a part of your permanent record
This allows our doctors to best monitor change over time.
Below are the top frequently asked questions (FAQs) about optomap digital retinal imaging that we get at our office.
Can I wear my contact lenses during optomap?
Yes. However, we find it’s best to have you remove them before the exam.
How often is it recommended to have an optomap done?
We recommend including optomap in every comprehensive eye exam. On average, we recommend our patients get their eyes examined once a year.
Note: If you have diabetes or other known eye diseases, it is important to follow the exam scheduled recommended by our doctors.
Why is it important for the doctor to look at the retina?
The light-sensitive tissue that makes up your retina is susceptible to a variety of diseases and is essential to catch any problems early (to avoid vision loss)
Does this mean I will not have to be dilated?
It depends. Prior to having optomap technology, there was no technology available that gave our doctors a comprehensive image of your retina. Now that we have optomap available, it’s unlikely our doctors will have to dilate your eyes if they are healthy. Optomap will assist our doctors in the evaluation of your retina.
On the other hand, our doctors may use optomap AND dilation to complete their evaluation of the retina. This is at our doctors discretion based on your exam findings and eye health.
If I don’t have an optomap, will I still get a good exam?
Of course, our doctors will still give you an excellent eye exam! However, optomap is a tool that has proven to help eye doctors detect problems earlier. Also, without optomap, you will not have the same visual opportunity to learn about your own eye health
I see really well and don’t have any complaints. Why should I get this?
Prevention, prevention, prevention! You never know what is going on inside your eyes unless you have a comprehensive eye exam.
I have a family history of diabetes. Should I have optomap done? If so, why?
Yes. Optomap is particularly important for those who are at risk for diabetes since they are particularly prone to problems in the retina that can lead to vision loss
How much does optomap cost?
Does insurance cover the optomap?
Unfortunately, most vision plans do not offer coverage for optomap at this time, unless it's medically necessary.
Is optomap worth the additional fee?
Absolutely! In fact, we have many patients who come to see us simply because we have this state of the art technology. It's a HUGE part of the complete digital eye exam experience that you only get at Northlake Eye!
*The images used above are the property of optos*