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Ready for a comprehensive eye exam in Tokyo? Anyone who has been in Japan for more than a year is no doubt familiar with the thorough physical exam known as ningen-dokku, a term that translated literally means “human dock.” Think of a ship pulling into port for a complete inspection and you’ll get the idea.
Dr. Takuji Kato, who runs the Kato Eye Clinic in Shibuya, acted on a friend’s suggestion and came up with the eye-dokku—a comprehensive eye exam designed to spot a variety of vision problems and potentially serious medical conditions. An award-winning ophthalmologist who formerly headed a major university’s ophthalmology department and did research at two Harvard University affiliates, Dr. Kato and his associates are well-versed at diagnosing glaucoma, retinal and corneal diseases, macular degeneration and many other eye disorders.
To comprehensively evaluate the health of your eyes, Dr. Kato’s eye-dokku eye exam in Tokyo includes a dozen different tests and takes between one and two hours. “We’re looking for things like glaucoma, colorblindness, conjunctivitis, retinal detachment and signs of hypertension, diabetes and even brain tumors,” the doctor says. “Defects in the visual field help identify the latter, and I find one or two patients with them every year.”
The refraction test, for example, checks for nearsightedness and curvatures of the cornea, which indicate astigmatism. There is a retinal checkup to confirm that the retina is properly attached and functioning well, and another to check your visual field—including peripheral vision and blind spots—and for diseases affecting the field.
Another exam looks for ocular hypertension, meaning a high level of pressure within the eye. There are no obvious signs of this dangerous condition. Elevated eye pressure can cause glaucoma and permanent vision loss as well as damage the eye’s delicate optic nerve.
“We also do a three-dimensional checkup using our optical coherence tomography (OCT) device, a new 3D imaging microscope that works like a CT or MRI, and which only about 30 percent of eye clinics in Japan have,” says Dr. Kato. “The procedure is noninvasive, done without radiation, and takes only a few seconds. This test reveals glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. The latter is a huge problem, and the number one cause of blindness in the United States.”
Other tests part of the eye exam in Tokyo focus on visual acuity, tear production, focusing ability, color sensitivity and colorblindness, and the cells within the cornea.
Dr. Kato especially recommends that people over forty-five years old take the eye-dokku, particularly because of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. “More than five percent of the population has glaucoma, for example, and don’t know it,” he notes.
He also mentions that until a decade ago schools in Japan did regular and mandatory checks for colorblindness. Because some colorblind children were bullied, however, the Ministry of Education stopped the exams. As a result, he says, there are many kids and parents who don’t realize the kids are colorblind.
If your eye exam in Tokyo reveals glaucoma, Dr. Kato can treat you right at the clinic. If a problem requiring surgery or a medical condition such as diabetes is found, Dr. Kato can call on a great network of specialists for you. In addition, once a condition such as glaucoma is diagnosed, National Health Insurance can be used to defray the cost of treatments received.
The price of the eye-dokku is 25,000 yen. If you value your health and a clear view of the world around you, this comprehensive eye exam in Tokyo is well worth the price.
Takuji kato, Director of Kato Eye Clinic – Ophthalmologist in Tokyo
Dr. Takuji Kato earned his medical degree in ophthalmology in 1990 from Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo. In addition to residencies in both anesthesiology and ophthalmology, he has worked at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center and headed Juntendo’s ophthalmology department. His primary area of expertise is the cornea.
From 1999 to 2001, Dr. Kato was also a research fellow at two Harvard University affiliates, the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary and Schepens Eye Research Institute. He discovered new functions for type 18 collagen that promoted wound healing in the cornea. During that period he also won two awards: a Bausch & Lomb & MEEI research fellowship award in 1999, and a Japan Eye Bank research award in 2000.