There’s no doubt about it- first year was a lot to handle. Looking back at how we took three exams per week is astonishing to me. The current first years are, dare I say, lucky. Their class had a curriculum change and now only has two exams per week. It’s funny how I say “only,” because that is still truly impressive and a ton of studying. However, after a much needed relaxing summer off, it is back into full optometry mode for second year students.
As soon as we got back, some of us started clinical shifts. We are paired up with another student and get to perform an examination on a patient up to what we have learned. It was somewhat nerve wrecking at first, but this is exactly what we are here to do, so it was also exciting. I learned that trying to figure out what is going on with a real patient is not always as perfect as a problem on an exam. Instead, you have to think on your toes. It’s definitely a learning process!
In the first five weeks since we started back up, we have learned many essential skills that we will do every day in our practice. It was overwhelming at first, but these procedures are already becoming a little more natural:
In the first week, we learned how to perform a slit lamp evaluation. We learned the proper technique on how to examine the adnexa, conjunctiva, sclera, cornea, iris, anterior chamber, lens, and measure the anterior chamber angle. It is important to evaluate the front of the eye to make sure it is healthy. It’s amazing what all we can see behind this microscope that we cannot see with our naked eye!
In the third week, we learned how to perform Goldmann tonometry. This test is performed to get a measurement of the intraocular pressure of the eye. Checking for intraocular pressure regularly can be important in certain patients. Also, performing it correctly can be instrumental to deciding how to treat a patient.
In the fourth and fifth week, we learned how to perform binocuar indirect opthalmoscopy (BIO) and 78/90. These procedures allow you to get a detailed view of the retina. BIO is definitely nothing like what we have learned thus far. It’s crazy how much optics is involved with these procedures; being 1mm off can make you lose the perfect view you had.
View through the slit lamp through a 90D lens
From entrance testing to refraction, there is more to this profession than giving out a prescription. What it comes down to is that there is a lot of practice that must be done outside of class time. However, it’s worth it to get that really cool view of your friend’s eye in lab that you’ve been trying to get for two weeks.