The eye doctor may use a microscope called a slit lamp to examine the front of the eye. The microscope focuses a narrow, intense line of light on the eye. The slit lamp provides an enlarged 3D view of the eye and allows the doctor to detect any minor abnormalities. The slit lamp exam is a standard diagnostic procedure, also known as biomicroscopy.
A slit lamp combines a microscope with a very bright light. The slit lamp exam is a non-invasive test and is not harmful. A slit lamp can only be used to observe the eyes, it is not used for a therapeutic procedure. The slit lamp test is designed for the eyes to tell a story that may indicate the presence of many types of eye diseases and possible vision problems.
A slit lamp is one of the devices that your healthcare provider can use to check the health of your eyes. In addition, when the slit lamp is attached to a special magnifying lens, the doctor will be able to see the retina and optic nerve located at the back of the eye. In particular, care must be taken to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces of the slit lamp when patients show signs of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. The patient's history and complaints may guide a more focused examination, but an algorithmic approach to the slit lamp examination facilitates the proper functioning of the device and prevents the provider from ignoring subtle findings and moving too quickly to the obvious pathology.
A slit lamp exam helps the eye doctor see the entire physical structure of the eye from the inside. Although mastering the slit lamp takes time, the basic application for treating common eye ailments is an easy goal to address for both medical students and general practitioners and emergency medicine providers. Several online video tutorials provide an excellent overview of the components and use of the slit lamp. A slit lamp exam is generally very safe, although medications that dilate the pupils carry some risks.
Recent data suggest that a slit lamp exam may pose a greater risk than other tests, since the patient and provider face each other very closely during the exam. The person will sit in a chair in front of the slit lamp with the chin and forehead resting on a support. After the slit lamp exam, your healthcare provider may tell you that your eyes appear to be healthy and that no disease has been detected. Therefore, the slit lamp is one of the pillars of the complete eye examination, since it allows optometrists and ophthalmologists to evaluate each anatomical compartment of the eye.
A slit lamp exam may be used to help diagnose conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and more. A slit lamp exam is relatively quick and, to a large extent, painless, although your eye may be full of tears or water and you'll have to resist the urge to blink frequently. During the exam, the doctor will look through the microscope and adjust the light of the slit lamp to see certain parts of the eyes. Taken together, these contributions allowed doctors to perform a complete diagnostic examination with the aid of the slit lamp and, perhaps most importantly, for the patient to remain seated comfortably throughout this examination.