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I could not live without...

The full aperture glass lens trial set

Practice owner and optometrist, Anjana Taank, explains why she would not want to replace a much-loved ‘vintage’ optometry tool with a high-tech alternative

16 Oct 2017 by Emily McCormick

Nowadays we all put a lot of faith in the latest technological advances. We do this with good reason as in most cases the latest equipment is indeed faster and more thorough. However, it pays to be mindful of the fact that some traditional tools remain the best instruments for the job. I for one am reluctant to part ways with my most trusted and reliable piece of equipment, an 80-plus-year-old trial case. It sits proudly in a bespoke mahogany cabinet in my examination room and is used with every single patient I see.

An oldie but a goody

Expertly made by a local carpenter, it’s a thing of beauty. Its lenses are made from glass with individual screws. In 14 years, I haven’t once needed to tighten them. Originally, the frame and lenses were housed in a case until it was moved to a cabinet that was handmade to match the wooden frame. The craftsmanship is exemplary, it simply cannot be matched these days.

It’s admired by many patients and is certainly a historical feature of the practice, but let’s be clear, it’s no novelty. It may be old, but it’s by no means inaccurate or dated. It has earned its rightful place as a key tool, perhaps the key tool, in a progressive, award-winning practice.

In a nutshell, I trust my trial case to provide absolute accuracy, which is fundamental in delivering expert prescriptions and the best visual outcome for patients. Its reliability allows me to confidently prescribe bespoke lenses with ease. Whenever I’m assessing any ophthalmic equipment – regardless of age and ‘sophistication’ – my focus is always on what’s going to work best for me and my patients.

"It has never broken down, required support or service – all you need is a dab of lens cleaner and a bit of elbow grease to restore it to its original condition"

Enhancing human interaction

Surrounded by the latest gadgets and other tools of the trade, this trial case is distinctly different, even regal. There’s a warmth about it. It’s tactile, it speaks to tradition and heritage, which is reassuring in a clinical environment. Naturally, it receives more attention from patients than any other piece of kit, like a faithful friend that’s worked alongside generations of optometrists. 

Year upon year, optometry evolves at a fast pace with the introduction of new equipment, innovative ways of examining patients, the use of technology to ascertain more accurate diagnoses. Yet this longstanding method of using a trial case to obtain a prescription is still preferred, yet to be replaced by an autorefractor. This is the key part of the exam where we establish the patient’s needs for perfect sight, where we can fine tune the prescription based on patient responses. This requires a human touch that cannot accurately be replaced by a machine. 

"It's no novelty. It may be old, but it's by no means inaccurate or dated. It has earned its rightful place as a key tool, perhaps the key tool, in a progressive award-winning practice"

Simplicity and reliability

Another benefit of a traditional tool like this trial case is that, even on your first day as a locum optometrist, you need no introduction or training. You can relax, get to work and take pleasure from its years of reliability. It has never broken down, required support or service — all you need is a dab of lens cleaner and a bit of elbow grease to restore it to its original condition.  

All that said, I resolutely embrace state-of-the-art diagnostic and imaging instruments that are guaranteed to give my patients the very best, most accurate care, but it’s the simplicity and reliability that I adore most about my ‘vintage’ trial frame. It’s loyal and never fails me which makes it worth its weight in gold.

Taank Optometrists was named of Practice of the Year at the AOP Awards 2017. To find out more about the AOP Awards 2018, including the finalists and how to vote, visit the AOP website. 

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