By M.L. Dehm HBJ Freelance Writer
MARYSVILLE — Over the last two decades, there have been many advances in eye care. Kim Kron, founder of Marysville Vision Source, appreciates the new technologies that have appeared since he set up his practice in Marysville 20 years ago.
“So many things are computerized now,” he said.
He loves his Optomap Retinal Imaging machine that allows him to get an almost instant picture of the retina, macula, optic nerve and blood vessel system without having to dilate the patient’s eye to do it. His patients love it, too, especially those who don’t want their eyes dilated because they have to head back to work after their appointments.
To fit contact lenses, he has a machine that creates a topographical map with 8,000 points of curvature across the eye surface. He has a machine that will count the cells in certain layers of the eye to check for diseases. He has another machine that functions like a CT scanner that will scan all 10 layers of the retina.
“We have a ton of equipment,” Kron said.
In addition to the advances in machine technology, there are also advances in lens technology. Specialty contact lenses are available for post-surgical healing or to help in the management of corneal diseases.
“Some of the new designs are utilizing high oxygen materials that will give much more stable vision than things we could do in the past. That has come with computer generation,” Kron said.
Another advancement in lens technology is FDA-cleared ChomaGen filtered lenses that can help a certain segment of the population that struggles with visual reading difficulties or some forms of dyslexia.
The lenses, which are also said to help correct color blindness, alter light’s wavelength as it passes into the eye, balancing the signals to the brain. This can help those dyslexics whose symptoms include seeing words moving or floating on the page, double words or words that go in and out of focus.
“When you can only read one word at a time, you can’t get the gist and your reading is very slow,” Kron said. Correcting vision impairments can help with comprehension and learning.
While ChomaGen lenses won’t help every dyslexic, Marysville Vision Source offers a screening process to see which patients the lenses would help. Most of these patients are children.
Although Kron and his new associate, Jessie Liu, treat patients of all ages, both really enjoy working with children.
“I’m a part of InfantSEE,” Kron said. “We actually provide free screenings for all infants up to a year of age.”
Those early screenings can identify major problems, such as lazy eye, in the early stages before they cause lasting problems. Minimally, Kron would like to see all children by the age of 5, just before they start school. In the ideal world, both Kron and Liu would like parents to follow the American Optometric Association guidelines and bring them in for a first visit at 9 months.
“At 2 or 3 months, there’s not a lot that can be done yet,” Liu said. “But 9 months is a really good time to start.”
Guidelines also suggest that parents bring children in at 2 years and again at age 5 for follow ups. Adults should be seen yearly. That yearly visit becomes even more vital as people age, Kron said, because many eye diseases that can cause blindness are stealthy. They don’t cause pain and most people are unaware that there is a problem until the disease already in an advanced state.
Kron and Liu agree that macular degeneration is going to become a big issue as baby boomers age. The wet-type of macular degeneration is the worst form. Ten years ago, most people diagnosed with wet macular degeneration would be blind within about two years, Kron said.
Now, if detected early with new technology during routine visits to the eye doctor, there are treatments for wet macular degeneration. In the near future, Kron plans to offer genetic testing to predict the possibility of the disease at an even earlier stage.
All of this technology comes at a price to the practitioners setting up shop, Kron said. But for patients, his office accepts insurance and many of these technologies are covered by insurance and are usually affordable if they aren’t covered. Additionally, he has an eye care program that businesses can offer to their employees and he handles eye-care emergencies, too.