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New High-Tech Eye Exam Helps Doctors Detect Serious Health Issues Much Sooner -- Even Breast Cancer

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's new eye equipment that makes finding potential vision problems easier and more. The first advantage with this device is that it eliminates the need for your eyes to be dilated when doctors look for things like glaucoma and cataracts and it's also helping doctors detect serious health issues.

Three years ago, Allie Mateus went to the optometrist with pain in her eyes.

"Something was strange in my eye and I had never felt the pain before so I really wanted to figure out exactly what was going on," she said.

The 26-year old had a test done, using a machine called the Optomap. It allows doctors to examine the eyes without usual dilation, which leaves patients with blurry vision for hours.

"It's very inconvenient for people, because we all have busy lives," optometrist Dr. Diane Song said.

The machine takes a digital, high-definition scan of the eye and optic nerve. Those scans can reveal signs of conditions like cancer and high blood pressure.

"We can zoom in if I see something suspicious to get a better detailed image of it." Dr. Song said.

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Dr. Song says the technology has helped her diagnose illnesses in several patients, including a breast cancer survivor.

"She actually had a metastasis of breast cancer go into her eyes and we are able to see it on the Optomap images and were able to get her to a specialist to get that treated," Dr. Song said.

In Mateus' case, Dr. Song found optic neuritis, which can be a warning sign for multiple sclerosis.

"It turned out after other MRIs and other testing that I did have multiple sclerosis," she said.

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An early diagnosis has helped her fight back.

"The fact that I'm on medication now and able to start lessen the lesions that I'm going to have over time is so significant," Mateus said.

Mateus thinks without the Optomap, it could have been years before doctors discovered her disease.

The Optomap test is not covered by all insurance plans. It typically costs about $40.

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