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High-tech clinic provides focal point for The Round


Pacific University offers one-of-a-kind 3-D eye technology

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Pacific University's Pacific Eye Clinic Beaverton opened last August in one of the few currently active retail spaces at The Round at Beaverton Central.When it comes to fun things to do after school, eye exams tend to be absent from most children’s short lists.

The undeniable thrill of experiencing a 3-D movie such as “The Hobbit,” however, could lead more kids — not to mention their parents — to have their eyes checked at the Pacific EyeClinic Beaverton at The Round at Beaverton Central.

Among its many digital-based innovations, the state-of-the-art Beaverton facility — Pacific University’s sixth vision care clinic in the Portland area — offers what faculty members call the first 3-D performance clinic in the world.

Opened in August 2011, the clinic is equipped to diagnose and treat eye coordination problems that affect 3-D vision as well as more basic vision problems.

“The virtual 3-D environment provides many unique challenges to the visual system, including vision and vertigo-related symptoms,” said Dr. Jim Sheedy, director of Pacific’s Vision Performance Institute, when the facility first opened. “There is much yet to be known about the interaction between the human visual system and the virtual 3-D environment created by 3-D displays.”

Using tailor-made digital technology, including a “movie theater for one,” the clinic measures the performance of binocular — both eyes working together — visual performance. The increasing popularity of 3-D movies, such as “The Hobbit,” a current blockbuster based on author J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic novel, draws attention to visual impairments that hamper the sensory rush of the experience as well as other aspects that would otherwise go undiagnosed.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - With the animated 3-D Viking odyssey,'How to Train Your Dragon,' playing on the screen behind her, Ami Halvorson, director of the Pacific EyeClinic Beaverton demonstrates the one-of-a-kind diagnostic technology in the 3-D performance clinic at The Round at Beaverton Central.

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To demonstrate the cutting-edge equipment earlier this week, Dr. Ken Eakland, associate dean for clinical programs at Pacific’s College of Optometry, used a slightly older film, the animated Viking odyssey, “How to Train Your Dragon,” from 2010.

“A lot of people get dizzy in there and are uncomfortable watching it,” Eakland said as the whimsical characters pop off the screen. “One thing the clinic is designed for is to investigate, to diagnose and treat those having problems with 3-D vision, including children with learning disabilities. All of a sudden we can look at it and address it.

“This is the only room that has this integrated technology, period,” he added. “There is nothing else like this in the U.S. This is a unique room.”

In addition to 3-D vision treatment, the clinic provides comprehensive eye services to patients, including primary care, contact lens fitting, eye infection treatment, glaucoma and cataract management, visual field testing, retinal photography and imaging, and emergency eye care services. Licensed optometrists who are also faculty members supervise Pacific optometry students at the clinic.

As they show off the clinic’s five “lanes,” or customized examination areas, on Tuesday morning, Eakland and clinic Director Ami Halvorson are clearly proud of the sparkling facility, one of the few businesses currently operating in the The Round’s ground-floor retail spaces.

“Every piece of equipment that I could ever ask for as an optometrist is located in this building,” said Halvorson, an assistant professor of optometry at Pacific.by: TIMES PHOTOS: JAIME VALDEZ  - Ami Halvorson, director of Pacific EyeClinic Beaverton at The Round, demonstrates state-of-the-art digital equipment that photographs the retina of the eye for doctors to analyze.

Clear communication

From the 3-D imaging system and the visual field machine that creates a virtual topographical map of the retina, to the multi-lingual audio equipment and the laser surgery system, the clinic’s technology is designed to make exams easier for doctor and patient alike. And regardless of how many clinic “lanes” a patient is examined in, data is channeled to a central location.

“All of this talks to the equipment in the examination room,” Halvorson said. “It’s there before we are.”

Eakland particularly appreciates how the technology allows doctors and patients to share information.

“I have the ability to take this data, this information, and can literally send it to you in an email,” he said, showing a multi-paneled screen with various optical images and patient data. “It’s all about communication between the doctor and patient.”

And in the case of a female patient who came in this week, the clinic’s technology can have potentially life-saving implications.

“Her exam findings made us suspicious, so we had her come back,” Halvorson said. “Based on the findings of that test, we sent her off for an MRI because we suspected a neurological condition — a tumor.

“It’s amazing,” she added. “There are so many things you can tell.”