What is a Slit-Lamp test or Biomicroscopy?
A slit-lamp test, also called a biomicroscopy, is an exam that is part of a good eye exam. The slit lamp exam is performed by either an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist during a routine vision check. The slit-lamp exam allows the doctor to see areas at the front of the eye. These areas include your eyelids, conjuctivia, iris, lens, sclera and your cornea. Other areas visible with the slit-lamp test are the retina and optic nerve. This exam allows the doctor to examine the eye for abnormalities or problems.
The Slit-Lamp Test Process
During a routine eye exam appointment, the doctor will perform various different test to evaluate your eye and sight. When it comes to the split-lamp test, the doctor will begin by placing your chin and forehead on an instrument that will keep your head steady for the exam. He will then place eyedrops, that contain a yellow dye which make any abnormalities on the surface of the cornea more visible, by washing away any tears. These drops may cause your eyes to be sensitive to light a few hours after the eye exam. If you begin to develop eye pain, or start to feel nauseous, return to the doctors office, as this can be sings of increased pressure of fluid in the eye, and needs to be treated.
After the drops are applied to the eye, the doctor will use a low-powered microscope and the slit-lamp-a high intensity light- to examine your eye closely. The doctor may apply filters to the lamp to see different views of the eye. Finally, the doctor may apply additional eye drops to dilate your pupils in order to see the back of your eye.
Diagnosis of Slit-Lamp Exam
After the doctor completes the slit-lamp exam, they will be able to diagnose any eye problems including:
- Macular Degeneration: A chronic condition caused by the deterioration of the retina, which is the inside back layer of the eye. This layer is responsible for recording images we see and sends them to the brain, via the optic nerve. The macula, or the center portion of the retina, is also affected. The macula is responsible for focusing the eyes central vision. The macula allows us to read, drive a vehicle, recognize colors and faces, and see the fine details in objects.
- Detached Retina: This is when the retina becomes detached from the blood vessels that nourish it.
- Cataracts: Is the clouding of the lens that affects your ability to see.
- Injury to the Cornea: An injury to the tissue that covers the front of your eye.
- Blockages: When the eye’s blood vessels are being obstructed. Blockages can lead to loss of sight.
It is recommended to ask the doctor what they are for during the exam, and what eye conditions you may be at risk for.
If your results are abnormal, this may be a sign that eye conditions may be present. Abnormal test results could mean any of these conditions, such as general vision problems, infections, inflammation, and glaucoma may be present. If the doctors find any of these present, they may recommend getting further testing to receive a more reliable diagnosis.
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