I could not live without…

My Grafton Optical LED camera slit lamp

Optometrist and director of Urquhart Opticians, Alistair Duff, discusses the importance of his LED camera slit lamp in the testing room

Alistair Duff

The slit lamp has always been a trusty piece of equipment for the optometrist and, in my opinion, having a slit lamp with a decent camera is a game changer in practice.

t Urquhart Opticians, we purchased our current slit lamp model that has an LED camera from Grafton Optical around 18 months ago as part of the business’ ongoing investment in equipment, people and our group of four practices in general.

Whilst the likes of our new optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner can grab the headlines – and undeniably has significantly enhanced the service we provide – it is the new slit lamp camera that we purchased that I have found to be absolutely invaluable day in, day out.

I have been furiously snapping away at any lump, bump or lesion that a patient presents with that looks remotely out of place

 


The new arrival

Since it arrived, I have been furiously snapping away at any lump, bump or lesion that a patient presents with that looks remotely out of place.

Being a camera novice, I still have to play about with aperture and lighting, but it’s pretty fool proof. The key is to take lots of photographs and save the best ones.

My artistic skills, like many optometrists, are zero, so these images play a really important part in referencing any issues with the external eye, meaning that subtle details can be noticed very quickly.

I tend to take a photograph of any unusual feature, as well as any external conditions. In fact, I take a picture of anything that I would like to chat to a patient about at the end of the examination. Cataracts, for example, are extremely common in the ageing population, yet it can be difficult to explain what they are and the exact location. A photograph makes this extremely easy.

I also use the video feature on the slit lamp just about as much as the camera. Dry eye is something we are dealing with on a daily basis and having the patient see how the tear film is evaporating under UV light with fluorescein is a powerful tool in getting the patient to fully understand the condition.

My artistic skills, like many optometrists, are zero, so these images play a really important part in referencing any issues with the external eye

 

Image benefits

The images provide a fantastic resource for learning. At our practices we have two optometry students working with us who are both studying at Glasgow Caledonian University. Each week I collate the most interesting images that I have taken using the slit lamp and, with the patients’ permission, share them with our students as we discuss each case and any required treatment. This has proved to be invaluable for the students, who are making remarkable progress.

Perhaps most significantly though, the slit lamp camera really helps me to communicate with patients. Even with fairly minor issues such as blepharitis, an image brings the condition to life. I find that this also helps with the compliance of care instructions as the patient is eager for an improvement at their review appointment in the following weeks. I have even had a few people request a copy of their photo to show their family and friends.

Helping patients to better understand their eye conditions, and how and why the treatment offered is important, is fundamentally at the heart of what we do. So, in that respect, my slit lamp with its decent camera is one thing I could absolutely not live without.

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