Eye News Volume II Issue 22
Dr. Fabriziani is no computer expert. This may have to change. “We have needed something like this in glaucoma for years. I can take a snapshot of my patient’s optic nerve in seconds. The test doesn’t require eye drops and there is no discomfort. I get a detailed three dimensional picture to guide diagnosis and management”, Fabriziani claims.
The HRT II is a more friendly descendent of the original HRT research tool developed ten years ago. It records the exact size and shape of the optic nerve and the nerve fiber layer of the retina. Complex imaging and statistical software helps the physician treat glaucoma.
Glaucoma attacks over 15% of the population past the age of sixty. It results in blindness in far too many patients. Advanced glaucoma has been detected in unsuspecting individuals in the forties and younger.
Measurement of the pressure within the eye, drawings of the optic nerve, and computerized visual field tests have been the foundation of glaucoma management for years. Nevertheless, even the best doctors admit they miss some cases and over diagnose others.
“In the first week I initiated glaucoma treatment in three patients who had damage that was too subtle to recognize before the HRT II. I’ve also stopped medication in five patients who, probably, never needed treatment”, said Fabriziani. “The real benefit of this machine will be evident in six months. I will re-evaluate the optic nerve and know if the glaucoma drops are working.”
The cost of glaucoma medication is high. The cost of preventable blindness from glaucoma is even higher. The government, pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry recognize the need for better glaucoma care.
“Patients can’t always cooperate fully with visual field testing”, Fabriziani continues. “It is frustrating. A bad test may mean worsening glaucoma or it may represent nothing more than a patient bored by the 45 minute visual field examination.”
A number of other eye care providers in the area have started to send their patients to Dr. Fabriziani for a scan. “Some doctors have six months to wait before their HRT II arrives. Others don’t have enough glaucoma patients to justify the cost of the technology. Most recognize the need for a yearly HRT II scan for their patients with glaucoma”, Fabriziani adds.
“I’ve seen him twice in the last week”, said Dr. Maria Parisi, former chief of Pediatrics at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Dr. Parisi, who remains active academically in the field is also excited by this new technology. Nevertheless, she hopes her husband (Dr. Fabriziani) will, “come home soon to visit the twins, Joshua and Jonathan.”
The HRT II, an updated, patient-friendly model, was recently approved by the FDA and validated by Medicare and other major insurance carriers for clinical use. They have covered its cost for patients with glaucoma and related conditions.
Phoenixville Eye Associates has obtained one of the first units in the Delaware Valley. One hundred patients have been scanned in the first week and a special schedule has been established for the backlog of glaucoma patients needing care. The extraordinary benefits of this machine have created a six month backorder for the manufacturer from physicians and practices in the US.
Scientists and researchers at Moorfields, England as well as contributors from the United States have made extremely early diagnosis of glaucoma by the HRT II possible. Application to macular (retinal) disease and ocular melanoma have also been developed.
The nerve fiber layer is attacked early in glaucoma. Until now, damage to the nerve fiber was extremely difficult to diagnose. The HRT II measures this layer precisely. It helps the doctor verify glaucoma before irreversible loss of the visual field occurs.
Next week, the statistical analysis capabilities of the HRT II will be featured in next week’s Eye News.
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Dr. Lewis is dedicated to delivering the best possible vision correction results for all of his LASIK and Epi-LASIK Philly patients. This approach has helped him earn a reputation as a foremost Philadelphia, Elkins Park, Phoenixville and Bucks County LASIK and Epi-LASIK surgeon. In addition to laser eye surgery, Dr. Lewis specializes in implantation of advanced collamer lenses and is renowned as a foremost Visian ICL Philadelphia specialist.