Local doctors now have improved means of testing of their eye patients through electrophysiological technology.

The Diopsys NOVA Vision Testing System is a non-invasive and painless testing process that can detect glaucoma, macular degeneration and other neuro-visual disorders.

“This is everything you want out of a test,” said Dr. Scott Hartzell, an ophthalmologist and a co-owner and partner with the Eye Center of Central Pennsylvania.

The Eye Center operates 14 locations in central Pennsylvania, including in Williamsport, where one of its two Diopsys units are used for testing.

The Diopsys NOVA-VEP and NOVA-ERG can assess vision disorders earlier than traditional vision tests by evaluating the vision system from eye to visual cortex. VEP and ERG can also be used in addition to traditional testing for improved diagnosis and treatment.

VEP or Visual Evoked Potential measures the electrical activity in the vision system. The NOVA-VEP can assess the strength and speed of the signal reaching the visual cortex where vision is processed.

ERG or Pattern Electroretinography measures the function of the retina and how retinal cells are

conveying electrical impulses.

The testing can enhance the diagnosis for conditions as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye diseases, Hartzell said.

“This can be used when other tests don’t show anything,” he added.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Half of all patients who have glaucoma don’t know it, and for many people their vision may not be affected until the later stages of the disease.

Patients who undergo testing look at a computer screen flashing a series of black and white patterns. Sensory pads placed upon the patient help record each eye’s response.

The test itself is completed in a matter of minutes.

Eye Center officials say the testing system is good news for patients.

“It’s very exciting,” said Amy Hamm, office manager of the Eye Center.

Patients seen at at one of the Eye Center’s 14 satellite offices can be referred for testing in Williamsport or at Lewisburg where the other Diopsys unit is housed.

Officials noted that the testing is offered only at the Eye Center.

Eye Center technicians have been certified with the Diopsys unit.

The testing is covered by health insurance.