Clearing the way for better sight

Published 9:16 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

The new optomap retinal exam makes life a lot easier for a lot of folks, said Dr. Robert (Robbie) Hayes of Hayes Eye Center in Chelsea.

“I can quickly and more easily diagnose a problem and have permanent documentation for future comparison,” Hayes said. “And people can come in, have their exam without being dilated and get on back to work.”

But more importantly, this new technology leads to the diagnosis and treatment of eye and non-eye disease at an earlier stage than traditional exams. It can save sight and save lives, Hayes said.

Most patients can opt to have the optomap, he said, but some situations still require dilation to allow him to properly diagnose any vision and eye health problems.

Statistics show one person in the world goes blind every five seconds, but 80 percent of blindness is treatable or preventable with early detection.

As the doctor conducts examination of the retina with the optomap, pictures appear on a monitor screen, helping him to detect early signs of numerous diseases that affect not only the eyes and sight, but overall health.

Diseases that may be detected with the Optomap Retinal Exam include melanoma cancer, high blood pressure, age–related Macular Degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy (a leading cause of blindness).

Hayes did his undergraduate studies in biology at UAB. He received his doctorate in optometry (O.D.) from UAB School of Optometry in 1988. He had always wanted to be a hometown doctor, he said, and decided to go into optometry because he could be this and a specialist.

His first practice was in Sylacauga, but having fallen in love with the Chelsea area as a small boy, he moved his practice to a small office in Chelsea in 1992, then built the Chelsea MedPlaza in 1998.

Today, he’s fulfilling his dream of becoming a hometown doctor and a specialist, in a town that he loves. He is excited about being able to help patients at his Chelsea clinic with the help of new technology, to which few optometrists presently have access.