Article Date: 10/1/2008

Student Invents Computer-Based Vision Test

Student Invents Computer-Based Vision Test


■ Roughly five years ago, aspiring optometrist Graham McPartland, then an undergrad at California State University, Long Beach, began creating a computer-based vision test with the goal of replacing the slide projector.

"I grew up watching my optometrist father in action, and I wanted to create something easier, more functional and more feature packed than the slide projector — something that would fit in a sleek and streamlined state-of-the-art office," he explains.

Now, a senior at the Southern California College of Optometry, the 27-year-old has perfected the software, known as the Sharp System, and sells it via his Website

The Sharp System displays "object-oriented graphics" (vector graphics) for each optotype (letters, numbers, symbols, etc. that vary in contrast rather than color) on a computer monitor — a direct source of illumination, eliminating the need for a dark room to ensure contrast sensitivity. The "object-oriented graphics" enable you to indefinitely zoom in on the optotypes, which remain crisp, and the "sharpness" of the optotypes is limited only by the quality of the computer monitor, Mr. McPartland says. Also, the software, which comes with an infrared remote control, allows you to randomize optotypes to preclude patient memorization and enables you to test contrast via variable contrast optotypes contained within its contrast sensitivity testing module.

In addition, the Sharp System includes a patient education module, which uses animation to illuminate patients about glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and refractive diagnoses, such as myopia, among other ocular conditions.

Although Mr. McPartland wouldn't disclose the amount of Sharp Systems he's parted with, he did say that folks in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Estonia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, several South American countries and in most U.S. states are using it.

Further, he says that several parties have requested distributorship consideration.

So, will the senior optometry student forgo practicing optometry for the ophthalmic business world?

"No," he says. "I plan on going straight into private practice optometry. In fact, I'll be opening cold in southern Oregon right after graduation."

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Visually Impaired Inspire California Car Bill


■ Although hybrid and electric cars may be good for California's environment, their quiet operation poses a challenge for the visually impaired, says Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach, Calif.). That's why he's hoping the golden state's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), will sign Senate Bill (SB) 1174, "Vehicles: hybrid and electric vehicles: visually impaired pedestrians," which would ensure all motorized road vehicles, regardless of engine type or configuration, emit enough sound for blind and visually impaired pedestrians.

As we go to press, Governor Schwarzenegger is mulling over this, among thousands of other submitted bills.

• The Akreos AO60 aspheric intraocular lens (IOL), from Bausch & Lomb, has received Food and Drug Administration approval. The company says the single-piece, foldable acrylic, four-haptic lens is aberration-free.
• In a patient case series, the noninvasive Heidelberg Retinal Tomograph (HRT) Retina Module (Heidelberg Engineering) provided useful clinical information, very similar to that of fluorescein angiography, on patients with diabetic macular edema (Richter S. "Ret- Exam room, chair side evaluation of retinal edema," Veterans Administration Medical Center, North Chicago, Ill.).

In the September issue of Optometric Management ("Computer-Assisted Glaucoma Analysis"), the description of the RTVue Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) system should read: "Also, some spectral-domain OCT systems offer a variety of features to measure progression analysis. For example, the RTVue (Optovue) diagnosis and measures glaucoma progression through tools, including a normative database, ganglion cell complex analysis, pattern deviation analysis, optic nerve head/RNFL analysis, progression/trend analysis and asymmetry analysis, according to company literature."

Put an End to Healthcare Illiteracy


Bob Levoy, O.D., Roslyn, NY

■ Do your patients truly understand your recommendations, explanations and instructions?

One of the less-discussed barriers to patient compliance is what's called "health literacy," the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic information and services needed to make appropriate healthcare decisions.

A report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that 90 million Americans — nearly half of all adults — have inadequate health literacy. More than a measurement of reading skills, health literacy includes writing, listening, speaking, arithmetic and conceptual knowledge. And these skills affect more than just the uneducated and poor, the report says.

At some point, most individuals will encounter health information they cannot understand. Even well-educated people with strong reading and writing skills may have trouble comprehending a health history form or a doctor's instructions regarding a drug or procedure. In fact, more than 300 studies indicate that most of the people for whom health-related materials are intended cannot understand them (Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Committee on Health Literacy, 2005).

Action steps: These suggestions may help you and your staff to communicate more effectively with patients who have limited literacy skills.

Limit the amount of information you provide at each visit. Patients' ability to remember instructions is better when you provide information in small pieces. Repetition further enhances recall.

Slow down. Speak slowly when explaining important information to patients. Although you may have provided the same information hundreds of times, your patient is likely hearing it for the first time.

Use pictures or models to explain important concepts. Just as it's easier to remember a person's face than his or her name, visual images enhance a patients' learning and recall.

Ask patients to repeat your instructions in their own words. Called "reverse paraphrasing," this action step lets you know how well the person understands your instructions.

For example, "I want to make sure I've done a good job communicating with you. Can you tell me now, in your own words, how you are going to do X?"

Phoenix Practices Hit By Sunglass Burglaries


■ Phoenix, Ariz., area O.D. practices were recently hit by a rash of burglaries, leaving the sunglass portions of their optical as barren as the state's deserts. Fearing the criminals may target practices in other states, Peoria, Ariz., optometrist Gary Morgan, a victim of the burglaries, wants you to review your security.

Dr. Morgan, whose dispensary was plundered twice within one week, says the criminals absconded with roughly 200 high-end sunglasses, such as Maui Jim and Coach, totaling $30,000. (His practice resides in a free-standing professional building.) Currently, law enforcement has no leads on the suspects.

His advice:

Make sure your motion detectors cover your entire practice. "When the first burglary occurred, the motion detector was located on a soffit that's two feet in front of the windows — where the optical is located," he explains. "The burglars must have cased the practice because they broke in through one of the windows and entered no more than a foot and a half, never triggering the alarm system."

Don't install security glass window film before glass break sensors. After the first burglary, Dr. Morgan installed security glass window film. But, he hadn't yet changed the motion detector's location, and his windows didn't have glass break sensors. "The criminals were able to cut a hole through the film, reach in and cut the security film along the window pane before rolling it up, entering my practice and taking the rest of my inventory," he says.

"Because our dispensaries are one of our biggest investments, it's crucial we take the time to evaluate our practice security," Dr. Morgan says. "I learned this the hard way, but my colleagues don't have to."

VSP Vision Care launched the Web site,, which provides information on VSP's charitable programs. In addition, the site includes descriptions of community events and offers "fun and educational eye care information at the click of a mouse," says Kate Renwick-Espinosa, vice president of marketing.

■ Carl Zeiss Meditec announced it has placed more than 10,000 optical coherence tomography (OCT) platforms worldwide. These units include the Cirrus HD-OCT, the Stratus OCT and the Visante OCT, a technology suite that images both the front and the back of the eye, identifies all major categories of eye diseases and supports all ophthalmic and optometric specialties, the company says. Cumulatively, these devices capture more than 100,000 visual images per day.

Marco has become the exclusive U.S. marketer and seller of the MacuScope instrument, from MacuChek, and the MacuHealth/LMZ3 supplement, from MacuHealth (formerly AdMed). The MacuScope aids in early detection of low macular protective pigment, a primary risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, MacuCheck says. The Macuhealth/LMZ3 is a patented nutritional supplement that contains the three pigments (lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin) found in the macula, which have been shown to resite store macular pigment to normal levels, MacuHealth says.

■ If you're one of the 80 million active users of, you can take advantage of Vistakon's Acuminder Facebook application (, a service that reminds users to change their contact lenses. Acuminder users report they are more compliant with contact lens schedules, Vistakon says. In addition, you can use Acuminder for other events, such as taking medication, doctors' visits and work and social events.

Vision USA, has received a $150,000 grant from the Alcon Foundation. The foundation has also promised an additional $25,000 in the form of a matching grant when other funds are raised. A program of "Optometry's Charity," the charitable foundation of the AOA, Vision USA provides eye health and care services free of charge to uninsured, low-income individuals.

Gerber Coburn and Essilor Instruments announced a three-year distribution agreement in which Gerber Coburn will continue to distribute Essilor-manufactured lens finishing products exclusively in North America and Australia and market-specific products, worldwide. Gerber Coburn will also continue to work with Essilor Instruments to develop and manufacture the ophthalmic lens finishing systems.

■ Produced in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Bausch & Lomb has created 40 limited edition pink Crystallized Swarovski Elements contact lens cases. Patients can enter to win one of the cases, created with 646 hand-applied crystal components, at

The National Health Information Awards Program chose The Vision Council's "Eye Safety Kit" as a Bronze Award winner for Direct Mail in the Health Promotion/Disease and Injury Prevention Information category.

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2008