NORCROSS, GA – Area ophthalmologist Rick Cavalier believes in taking full advantage of dilated pupils during his eye exams, which is why he not only uses special magnifying lenses but his own index finger to examine all of the critical tissues in the back of the eye.
“I remember back in medical school when you examined the heart, lungs, and abdomen you always wanted to palpate the area in question, it was always one of the techniques you used,” explained Cavalier as he wiped some of his patient’s tears on his pant leg. “Ophthalmologists might press on your closed eyeball to get a sense of intraocular pressure but that’s as much palpation as you get. In my eyes, that’s unacceptable.”
Cavalier goes through all the motions when it comes to a comprehensive dilated eye exam, but then takes it a little further. By using a little more eye drops than usual, Cavalier gets the pupils maximally dilated so that he can successfully pass his index finger through them.
“There’s a lot of information you can gather from how a patient’s lens and vitreous humor feels against your bare finger,” Cavalier told Gomerblog, all of us trying collectively not to gag. “There’s nothing more satisfying than feeling healthy retinas and optic nerves at the tip of my fingers.” He adds that his favorite maneuver is the full finger sweep, in which he rotates his wrist and arm 360 degrees to fully palpate the entire inside of an eyeball. “It’s like retroflexion on colonoscopy, but my finger and your eyeball.”
Cavalier hopes more ophthalmologists follow his footsteps, though he offers some advice to those who do.
“Obviously wash your hands, but also clip those fingernails and make sure they’re not too sharp,” he warned. “I figured out the hard way, believe me.”