Join Me as I Learn to Use the iCam: Lesson 1. Starting in Focus

Our newest program coordinator shares her “aha” moments as she learns.

As the new Washington State Program Coordinator for EyePACS, I have been able to bring an Optovue iCam to Seattle from the home office in San Jose. I am determined to become an iCam expert, and I’ll be writing about my experiences in learning how to use the iCam and the EyePACS program.  Because this is all new to me, maybe what I discover can be of help to you, the EyePACS-certified photographers out in the field and those new to the training course.

Once I brought home the camera and set it up, I was excited to start taking practice images.  I will admit that I was not a natural when it came to capturing images on the iCam.  When I was practicing with the EyePACS team in San Jose, I was producing quality images.  However, I found that without their guidance I was having a hard time getting the images into sharp focus.  After a quick consult with the other EyePACS program coordinators, I realized that I was making an easily avoidable mistake:  I was not properly aligning the focus bars.

The focus bars circled in the image on the left are not aligned.   The focus bars circled in the image on the right are properly aligned. 

The focus bars circled in the image on the left are not aligned.   The focus bars circled in the image on the right are properly aligned. 

After making sure the patient is comfortable and correctly placed, the first adjustment to the camera you make is to align the white focus bars.  This step seems simple enough, but I quickly learned this is where I was making my mistake, and it was affecting every subsequent image I would take.  Aligning the bars is easy, but you need to make sure that you are aligning the proper bars.  Beside each bar is a “ghost bar.”  If you’re not careful, you can start your entire set of images out of focus.  I discovered I wasn’t the only one having this problem.  I recommend you identify the ghost bars and be sure they don’t throw you off in the future.

A trick I found to use the focus bars correctly is to get the patient’s pupil very centered and close.  I align the bars at this point, and, as I start to move the base forward, I keep my eye on those bars.  If they start to drift apart, then I have accidentally aligned to a ghost bar.  By keeping my vision on those correctly aligned focus bars as I enter the eyeball and can see the retina, finding the alignment dots and taking a crisp picture is much easier.  If you’re having trouble with this, please feel free to email contact@eyepacs.org and one of the program coordinators will be more than happy to help you figure out how to improve your image quality.  Stay tuned as I continue to learn how to use the iCam and write about my troubleshooting experiences.