For most optometrists, the slit lamp is the most valuable objective instrument used in clinical practice. Having the option to capture high resolution photos and videos of what we see through the slit lamp can significantly open up several clinical applications.
Recently, the practice where I work, Hynes Optometrists, decided to upgrade its slit lamp by attaching a DSLR camera and a beam splitter. Being able to show patients a photograph of their own eye condition continually provides an amazed reaction. After all, as the saying goes – “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
A new tool
We mainly use the photograph function to capture anterior eye conditions such as blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, lid margin irritation and tear prism height. However, the slow-motion video function is ideal for capturing incomplete blinks and to demonstrate tear film stability, which makes this digital imaging slit lamp a vital instrument for the practice’s dry eye clinic.
The digital slit lamp is also used to show patients a before and after photo following BlephEx treatment, lacrimal duct syringing and corneal abrasion treatment.
Cataracts, iris transillumination, floaters, and even peripheral retinal holes, can be captured easily. These images are ideal in aiding patient understanding, and planning the management of their condition. They also help with the patient compliance of any treatment given.
The tool’s live-view function streams what is seen through the eyepiece onto the main test chart screen. This is ideal during a child slit lamp examination where the parents watch us do a walk through on what we are viewing through the eyepiece.
It makes the routine far more engaging and the children love seeing their eyes on the big screen. It’s also a great way to maintain fixation and interest during the eye exam. In fact, some children ask for the live view to be switched on based on their previous experience.
"The digital slit lamp is embedded in my routine and truly is something I could not live without"
Set up and ready
Setting the slit lamp up for capturing images is relatively simple with the modern digital SLR cameras. The eyepiece needs to be adjusted to make sure the photos are in focus using live view.
At our practice, the camera is set to manual, sensitivity (ISO) set to 3600, and the exposure is adjusted using the illumination and shutter speed. With experience, the quality of the photos captured can rival those found in ophthalmology textbooks.
All of the major slit lamp manufacturers produce digital imaging slit lamps with an integrated beam splitter and camera. They have the advantage of linking the photos to a separate image-capturing software, which makes organising the photographs easier.
In summary, there are few instruments available that enhance a patient’s experience and takes a well-polished testing routine to the next level like this does. The digital imaging slit lamp is a simple upgrade that creates a ‘wow factor’ and helps deliver a higher standard of care.
Since it is used in so many applications, the digital slit lamp is embedded in my routine and truly is something I could not live without.