Nursing and allied health professionals play an important role in the eye examination and follow-up. Ophthalmic assistants and technicians facilitate the examination by logging the pertinent patient history.
Depending on skill level, ophthalmic assistants may perform measurement of visual acuity under both low and high illumination; assessment of ocular motility and binocularity; and assessment of visual fields and measurement of IOPs with tonometers.
Advanced and intermediate level ophthalmic technicians perform refractions and determine the patient's depth perception. These professionals may also perform corneal topography (mapping).
Some of these professionals seek certification through the American Board of Opticianry/National Contact Lens Examiners and other organizations. These organizations offer seminars and testing that inform professionals
of technological advances in refraction and eyeglass manufacturing.
Amblyopia—Decreased visual acuity, usually in one eye, in the absence of any structural abnormality in the eye.
Conjunctiva—The mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eyes (sclera) and lines the eyelids.
Cornea—Clear outer covering of the front of the eye.
Floaters—Translucent specks that float across the visual field, due to small objects floating in the vitreous humor.
Fundus—In the eye, fundus refers to the back area that can be seen with the ophthalmoscope.
Glaucoma—Glaucoma results in optic nerve damage and a decreased visual field and blindness if not treated. It is usually associated with increased IOP, but that is not always the case. The three factors associated with glaucoma are increased IOP, a change in the optic nerve head, and changes in the visual field.
Gonioscope—An instrument used to inspect the eye (e.g., the anterior chamber). It consists of a magnifier and a lens equipped with mirrors; it's placed on the patient's cornea.
Iris—The colored ring just behind the cornea and in front of the lens that controls the amount of light sent to the retina.
Macula—The central part of the retina where the rods and cones are densest.
Ophthalmoscope—An instrument designed to view structures in the back of the eye.
Optic nerve—The nerve that carries visual messages from the retina to the brain.
Pupil—The circular opening that looks like a black hole in the middle of the iris.
Retina—The inner, light-sensitive layer of the eye containing rods and cones; it transforms the image it receives into electrical messages which are then sent to the brain via the optic nerve.
Sclera—The tough, fibrous, white outer protective covering that surrounds the eye.
Slit lamp—A microscope that projects a linear slit beam of light onto the eye; it allows viewing of the conjunctiva, cornea, iris, aqueous humor, lens, and eyelid.
Tonometer—An instrument that measures intraocular pressure (IOP).
Mary Bekker, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,