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Welcome to the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society Blog! The posts on this blog are authored by a myriad of individuals in Ophthalmology. Posts are not always authored by those directly affiliated with the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society and opinions may not be those of the OPS; however, all posts are submitted to a review process and have been approved by the OPS before being posted. Comments are open to the public. New posts are added every Friday, so make sure to check back often!

 

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Salary Survey

Posted By Paula Morris, Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013

These days we frequently hear that we should "make a difference”. It has become a familiar, well used concept. I hear the phrase at work, I hear it regarding volunteering for my community, I hear it from various organizations about fund raising, and I heard it often from a dear, departed friend – it was a principle he truly lived by.

 

Every once in a while, something comes along that can make a difference in our ophthalmic imaging profession: something where each individual can make a unique contribution. And that something is the OPS salary survey!

Contrary to some comments circulating around in the ether, ophthalmic imaging is growing, thriving, and most importantly, evolving. Ophthalmic imagers are a diverse group, coming from different backgrounds, different training, and more and more, different job descriptions. The demands of an academic institution may be quite dissimilar to what is required in a private practice, and the management of each clinic is bound to be unique, based on the style of the physicians in the practice.

So, how to gauge compensation in such diverse situations? How to get a sense of where you stand in relation to colleagues throughout the profession? How do your demographics match up to other imagers?

The new OPS salary survey, which was designed to be specific for those who do ophthalmic imaging, is a way to collect information about all of us in a usable form that can be referred to when negotiating for new employment, wage increases, or job re-classifications. It includes not just salary information, but geographic locations, and workplace scenarios, just as the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes in its surveys. All of this information has an impact when comparing Job A with Job B. The more participants we have in the survey, the bigger the data pool, the more comprehensive the information, and the greater the benefit to all of us.

 

This is where the individual making the difference comes in!

It is easy to find the salary survey – the link and a short explanation are featured on the home page of the OPS website, www.opsweb.org. Since we want the survey to be answered by and available to everyone who does ophthalmic imaging, not just OPS members, you don’t need to log onto the website to participate in the survey.

As it says on the website, it takes about 10 minutes to complete the survey. Happily, our wonderful website allows us to do surveys, but it is not a perfect system – if you have to leave to do patient care, the webpage may "timeout”, the survey will be incomplete and you will have to start over. So if you can, select a time when you have a few uninterrupted minutes to devote to completing this important task. The results will be available to everyone in the coming months.

So far, there has been great response to the survey, but it’s not complete if your information is not included in the results! Please spread the word to your non-OPS imaging friends!

I really love this quote by President Kennedy – especially the "every person should try” part! Please take that to heart and join us to make this salary survey the most complete, and therefore, the most meaningful survey yet.

 

And while you are on the website, be sure to look around and see all the exciting things that are happening in the OPS. Education, photo competitions, forums, blogs, Facebook connections – something for everyone!

 

 

Tags:  blog  cute  education  Interactive  Meaningful Use  PDC  Professional Development Committee  Professionalism  research  Salary  school  Study  Survey  Tips 

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My - What I Have Learned!

Posted By Taylor Pannell, Friday, August 9, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013

When I was at RIT I didn’t want to believe the stories about patient interaction and care. I refused to believe that I would ever have to hold open lids or deal with media opacities or even help hold a patient up to the machine for their tests. I was used to fresh, young, healthy eyes that were used to dilation and bright lights. My ophthalmic instructor always told us that our classmates would be the best patients we’d ever have and she was very right.

When I first started at the eye institute I thought I would have it easy. I thought my patients would be nice and cooperative and that my coworkers would marvel at my accuracy and speed. Reality hit me real fast. This job would not be the walk in the park I believed it would be.

On my first day at the institute I figured I would be at a slight disadvantage because it had been at least a year from finishing my ophthalmic class to when I was hired to work in the ophthalmic field (Meaning it had been quite some time since I had used a fundus camera). I figured I could still keep up and be a great photographer. I quickly became depressed and discouraged when I saw the speed at which my seasoned coworkers could sweep through images on an unruly, uncooperative patient.

Although imaging my first patient didn’t take an hour to do, I still needed to hurry it up. After some practice however, I did manage to quicken my pace.

I also wasn’t anticipating the doctors and their needs. I had no idea that each doctor has likes and dislikes and if you do something they didn’t ask for (even if it’s helpful) you may hear about it. If you forget to do something they ask for (because, again, they each like different things and it’s hard to remember which things go to which doctors) you will most definitely hear about it. Luckily I had great coworkers that taught me (very quickly) what each doctor expected and how to speak to them about it.

When it’s sink or swim you learn to swim very, very fast. I found that I had been thrown into a raging sea of patients, testing, doctors, and high expectations and I thought, for a brief moment, that I might drown. There were two reasons that I survived. I had the drive to stay ahead. I took notes and tried to commit as many things to memory as I could. I also was lucky enough to have supportive coworkers and team members guiding me and telling me that I was doing just fine. Any time I got discouraged or made a mistake, they were there to tell me how they did the same thing when they started and that it’s not the end of the world.

 

When I went through the biomed program I was very similar to my classmates. We took similar classes and did the same project on the same subjects. When we left our program we all looked the same to employers. So… how did I end up with this position over my classmates? What set me apart? I’d like to think that, yet again, it was my drive. I wanted so badly to find a career in this field, that I took the classes, did the projects, and reached out to my teachers for help (for those of you who don’t know, your teachers are great resources). My ophthalmic imaging teacher led me to a job at the University of Rochester, imaging for a diabetic retinopathy clinical trials project. That job opened the door and introduced me to people that helped me into the position I’m in now.

If I could give advice to anyone currently taking the ophthalmic courses, it would be to learn about OCTs. Also practice, practice, practice taking fundus photos. OCTs are a very popular and in demand test and if you apply for a job already knowing how to use one or at least know how they work, you will be ahead of your classmates. As for the fundus photos, I know almost all of us in the class took photos to meet the requirements of the projects, and then we went home. I wish I had stayed and shot eyes with differing degrees of dilation. It would have made me faster and better at imaging (a healthy eye at least). I don’t think enough people take advantage of their resources when they are in school and they don’t realize that they should have until they graduate and can no longer utilize them.

 

My advice to the new people coming into this field (or any field for that matter) would be to work hard and try your best. Your coworkers, doctors, and patients will appreciate it. Also, if you make a mistake, own it. Talk to the doctor about what happened. The fact that you can recognize that there is a problem and fix it will make them respect you more.

My last piece of advice or word of caution is to treat everyone you work with (whether it’s a classmate or coworker) with respect. Don’t be lazy and push your work onto them or be rude and inconsiderate. You never know who will have a say in hiring you down the road. Also, never forget to thank people who have helped you along the way no matter how small the help is. They will remember. Speaking of giving thanks, I would like to thank everyone in the ophthalmic department at the University of Rochester. They have helped me learn new things and made me comfortable in the workplace. They are making me the strongest photographer I can possibly be. I’d also like to thank my ophthalmic professor/student advisor at RIT, Christye Sisson. Without her I would not be where I am today nor would I have the knowledge to get to where I am.

 

 

Taylor Pannell graduated from the Biomedical photographic communications major at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2012. While there, she studied photomicroscopy, ophthalmic photography and print design and publishing. In October of 2012 she started working on the Tele-I-Care study that dealt with imaging patients with diabetic retinopathy. While working on the Tele-I-Care study she also worked part time in the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester until she was brought on full time in May of 2013. She is currently working towards obtaining her CRA and OCT-C.

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Stereo Scanning!

Posted By Timothy J. Bennett CRA, OCT-C, Friday, May 10, 2013
Updated: Friday, May 10, 2013


A flatbed scanner is often used as a small object camera for flat subjects. Surprisingly, they are also capable of imaging small three-dimensional objects as well. The optics in a flatbed scanner are designed to record the entire 8.5 x 11 (or larger) scanning bed on a small sensor. In order to do that, the scanner utilizes a wide angle lens with mirrors or prisms to place the sensor at an optical distance much greater than the actual physical distance of the shallow scanning bed.

Although the plane of focus is set at the surface of the glass plate, the optics provide better than expected depth-of-field, enabling a reasonable degree of sharpness in small three-dimensional subjects imaged on the glass bed.

The optics also introduce a certain amount of parallax when a three-dimensional object is moved to different lateral positions on the scanning bed.

You can see the effect here with this film box placed in left, center, and right positions on the bed. This parallax allows for generation of sequential stereo pairs much like the stereo pairs we create by shifting the fundus camera laterally between two sequential photos.

With standard stereo photography, the typical camera shift distance between photos is 2.5 inches which approximates the average distance between eyes. Another commonly used convention is to shift the camera 1/30th of the distance to the nearest point in the scene. The optical properties of a scanner render these common conventions irrelevant. I suggest experimenting with your particular scanner to judge a good distance between images but I've found that one to two inches works well, and sometimes as little as half an inch produces enough parallax to achieve a stereo effect.

Alignment between successive scans of unevenly shaped objects can be challenging. Objects can roll or shift between shots, distorting the stereo effect. If necessary, objects can be attached to a firm background with tape or glue. A glass front box can also be used to hold the object on the scanner. In both of these cases, the glass box or background is easily moved side-to-side on the scanning bed between shots to create parallax while maintaining the same object orientation.

The optics of the scanner are usually sharpest near the center of the scanner bed, so try to place objects near the middle. Judicious use of a Sharpen or Unsharp Mask filter in your photo editing software may help as well. When aligning the stereo pairs for viewing, any vertical displacement must be avoided. Leave some empty space around the object to allow for cropping any excess vertical overlap.

To achieve a dark background, you can simply leave the scanning lid open and turn off any ambient room light. Placing the scanner lid over the object will result in a lighter background that varies with the distance of the lid from the bed.

To prevent the lid from pressing against fragile objects or accidentally moving the object during lid placement between successive images, small blocks of foam board can be used to prop the lid above the object.

Several years ago, I read of a technique for scanning three-dimensional objects by placing them in a shallow box and inverting the scanner on top of the box. The objects shown above were placed in a shallow box lid and imaged with this technique, but I don't recommend it. Placing the scanner upside down can wreak havoc with the gears in the scanning carriage or stepping motor.

Once you've captured stereo pairs, they can be cropped, aligned, and rendered as anaglyph images in photo editing software or in dedicated stereo alignment software such as Stereo Photo Maker.

Give this technique a try and have fun!

The following anaglyph images were all done on a flatbed scanner. To view these images in stereo, use red/cyan (blue-green) anaglyph glasses with the red lens covering the left eye.

To see an anaglyph video clip panning across this image, click here

 

 

Timothy J. Bennett, CRA, FOPS, OCT-C, is an ophthalmic photographer in the Penn State University Department of Ophthalmology at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Mr. Bennett has over 30 years experience working in university-based academic medical centers. He is a nationally recognized author, lecturer and educator in the field of ophthalmic photography. Areas of expertise include fluorescein angiography, digital imaging, monochromatic photography, fundus autofluorescence and optical coherence tomography. Mr. Bennett holds current certification as a Certified Retinal Angiographer and Optical Coherence Tomographer, is a former Commissioner of the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, and has been recognized for his contributions to the profession by being named a Fellow of the Ophthalmic Photographers Society. He has served on the OPS Board of Certification, the OPS Board of Directors, and is Past-President of the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society.

Tags:  blog  education  Educational Meeting  Ice Breakers  Interactive  Meaningful Use  PDC  Photoshop  Scanning  school  Stereo  Study  Tips  Tricks 

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An OPS Application of Ancient Roman History - Or - Great Things Can Happen on the OPS Forum

Posted By Paula Morris, Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013

I never thought of myself as a "phobic”. I mean, I didn’t think I was really fearful of things, but instead exercised a healthy amount of caution and common sense when it came to avoiding dark alleys, or wearing spike heels on icy surfaces. And I’m not crazy about spiders, so the first time I photographed a wildly inflamed eye with tarantula spines firmly stuck in the cornea, that aversion seemed reasonable.

But one day I was looking up something on the internet, and a misspelling led me to entries regarding phobias. Holy cow! It would seem that if there is a Greek word for it, there can be a phobia assigned to it. Case in point: neophobia – fear of anything new, also called cainotophobia from the Greek word for kainos meaning "new.” Reading about it made me pause………….

While I don’t think I am afraid to try new things, I am always willing to hang around in my comfort zone. I can be adventurous, but routine is comfortable. So when the OPS launched the new website, even though I was one of the folks who worked on finding a good answer for our Society’s needs, I was flat out intimidated by all the features the website offered! How was I supposed to know how to find things on the site (even though I helped upload some of the content)? This was all new stuff – I was an old dog and this was definitely a new trick!

Wait! Was I exhibiting the textbook symptoms of "neophobia”? Was I afraid to actually take the time to check out the new features? Or had I not looked at the website as an efficient new way of really connecting to OPS members. Hmm.

So, looking for comfort through familiarity, I started checking out the home page, and there in the left side menu, I found the word, "Forums”. Hey! I’d paid attention in History class and I knew of the famous, sometimes infamous, Roman Forum. Suddenly I smiled as the lyrics from the Peter Allen song, "Everything Old is New Again”, leapt into my thoughts.

It looked like the OPS has our own version of a "The Forum”, with many of the same features: a gathering place for people with like interests, and an efficient way to communicate with many people at once; much more far reaching than my personal email list. It’s a tool in the Merriam- Webster application meaning "something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession”.

Our website can develop forums for all kinds of OPS groups, and in fact, the OPS Boards and committees have been using this feature in some capacity to conduct official OPS business since the website was launched. The forums are powerful tools, (but can be as fun to use as a toy), as they not only provide an easy venue to contact everyone subscribed to the forum, but all messages are archived and can be referred to at any time by any forum member. And files and documents can be stored for access through the Forum as well. So cool! For someone like me who is never very good at organizing my email, immediately saving and deleting, all these wonderful forum features are a gift.

A few weeks ago, a friend had a question about fluorescein sodium, and we quickly took it to the OPS member forum. In no time, folks were posting helpful information in response – members we were acquainted with, and some members we had never met! What a fabulous resource; and those responses were saved under that topic and are available for review by any member who may have missed the original postings. No doubt, we have the Roman Forum beat there.

If you aren’t an OPS member, you can read postings on the member forum, but you can’t participate by posting to it. But if you are an OPS member, you have full access to the website, including the member forum. All you have to do is log on, and the website is yours. To get to the OPS member forum, look at the left side menu on the home page, and select the 9th item down, "Blogs/Forums/Groups”. Expand the menu to the right, and select the second item down, "Forums”, and then click on the "OPS Member Forum” line. It is so easy – with only one thing to remember: you will get an initial email to let you know there is a new topic on the forum automatically. To continue to get email alerts to keep you up-to-date, you should click on the middle item just above the gray "TOPICS” bar that says, "Subscribe to Instant Updates” – or, you can choose "Subscribe to Digest”. Your choice to fit your style. You’ll need to choose if you want to receive alerts on topics, so if a topic doesn’t interest you, just don’t select one of the "subscribe” items. Sincerely, once I discovered how amazingly easy this is, I have been all over the website now – and this is just one feature of all that the website has to offer.

There are even sticky notes to educate you about the member forum, and guidelines for proper "netiquette” to keep our forum friendly and useful.

So, if you haven’t been on one of the OPS forums, I think you are missing out on a fabulous source and resource. Don’t be neophobic, give it a try. And if you have a quirky sense of humor, why not image that a posting is from someone in a toga!

belushi.jpg

"See” you on the forum!

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Getting Started

Posted By Lindsay Shepard, Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013

When I first started in this field ten years ago, I never would have imagined all the opportunities that would come before me and fun experiences I would get to enjoy. I think this is a truly interesting field of work and there are so many things to enjoy about it, but one of my favorite parts is the art aspect of every image.

I would like to start off with a big HELLO to everyone, and also a Thank You!! I have been in ophthalmology for 10 years and recently in retina specifically for two years. When I started two years ago, just learning how to capture an image and work the camera, I never would have thought that I would fall in love and have such a great passion for this art. This is truly an amazing field of work that is so rewarding in numerous ways. The more I research the more interested I become and the more my eagerness to learn grows. As I have researched and sought out other resources to learn from, I came across the amazing OPS Facebook page. The Facebook page has not only taught me many things, but it has allowed me to interact with others in this field. One of my favorite things about the OPS Facebook page is checking what challenge is next on the OPS Blog. (Insert link to blog). There have been so many challenges that I have enjoyed but here are a few of my favorites.

One of my all time favorite challenges so far is FA Interpretation!!! First I just love a good IVFA image!! But more importantly I enjoy getting others’ input by reading their comments and analysis of images. It’s great because some comments will give you a different outlook on a picture that maybe you were overlooking before. On many occasions I have been reading through responses and thought to myself "Yes, Yes I love that answer!!” I have found that learning things from the interpretation of others has allowed me to further my knowledge and use it to my benefit on the job, which is what this is all about.

 

Another one of my favorite FB challenges is Name that Diagnosis. Since now I work strictly in retina, there are so many things that I do not get to see on a regular basis. I used to work in General and some of the things that we would get to see were so interesting!! I love to see and examine pictures of different areas and structures of the eye and try to figure out for myself what they may be. Many times I think how great it would be to be able to see some of these things myself. I also enjoy the art of ophthalmic images and the amazing technique and quality that other imagers in this field posses!!

I have had the opportunity to meet so many great people since I started in this field and everyone has been so helpful and encouraging. Many of the people I have met and spoken to have encouraged me in so many ways and have offered to help me further my knowledge with information about other available resources. I admire the passion and amazing knowledge that everyone has and hope to just keep improving my own skills and understanding.

OPS Facebook page has been one of my favorite resources and learning tools. I know how much this page has done for me and see I am not the only one as I watch the number of fans increases weekly. Keep up the Good Work and Thank You for Everything!!!!!

 

Lindsay Shepard joined Illinois Retina Institute in February 2011 as an Ophthalmic Tech. and has since moved to the Retinal Angiography Department. Prior to working at IRI she worked as an Ophthalmic Tech. for a dual general ophthalmic practice for 8 years.

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