Your pretest room and refracting lane have all the sleek, high-tech equipment you need to measure every aspect of a patient’s eyes. But if you’re like a lot of practices, you’re using 4500-year-old technology in your optical. Yes, I’m talking about the ruler, the earliest known example of which was discovered in ancient Sumeria, and dates back to around 2650 BC. It is doubtful that it was used to measure PD, but the concept has never really changed. How do patients react when you take measurements for a customized lens made to .01mm tolerances with a 4.5-millenia-old tool?
Not that old technology is necessarily bad: when we eat we use knives, a tool developed by early humans about 2.5 million years ago and is still state-of-the-art, at least until laser food cutters hit the market. The main problem with PD rulers is they are prone to inaccuracy – slight lateral movements by either the patient or the dispenser can cause measurement errors of one to five millimeters. And, of course, they don’t make a great impression when you’re selling advanced lenses. Pupillometers are more accurate, but for the best accuracy and the greatest sophistication, nothing beats a digital centration system.
Digital centration systems take two basic forms: freestanding and tablet-based. Freestanding units make a distinctive, high-tech impression in the optical, but they tend to be expensive and they take up space that many offices don’t have. Tablet-based units are more affordable and can be used anywhere. And since they tend to be bundled with digital lens demos, they offer a complete solution for working with patients in the optical.
Digital measurement systems are easy to use and produce consistent results. Many of them just require just one photo to produce both standard and position-of-wear measurements, like pantoscopic tilt and vertex distance. A lightweight attachment to the patient’s frame provides reference points for the camera. When patients are measured this way, they know they’re getting a pair of advanced optical devices in their frames.
Digital centration instruments are available from companies like ABS/Smart Mirror and Optikam, as well as many lens manufacturers. If you’re not using one, check them out. You’ll discover how easy it is to make a 4500-year technology leap.