Optical Coherence Tomography is a non-invasive imaging test that may be performed as a standard part of your regular, comprehensive exams, or you may be able to request this test as an addition to your usual exam.
Optical Coherence Tomography uses light waves to take cross-section images of your retina, which is the area of light-sensitive cells at the back of your eye that is responsible for receiving light and transmitting it into messages that are sent up to the brain. The technology behind OCT enables your eye doctor to see each of the different layers that make up the retina. By being able to see these and measure them, they can obtain a much clearer picture of the overall health and condition of your eyes.
Why are Optical Coherence Tomography scans important?
When you choose to have an OCT scan at fairly regular intervals, such as during your normal comprehensive eye exams, your eye doctor can compare newer results to previous ones. This helps them to build up a picture of the health of your eyes, and spot any changes which may be concerning, early, before they cause symptoms or have a permanent effect on your vision.
Anyone can have an OCT scan, but they are particularly recommended for patients over the age of 25 who are concerned about the health of their eyes, or who are at risk of or already have diabetes, glaucoma or a family history of eye disease. This is because they can be used to spot the early signs of a range of eye diseases, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, disorders of the optic nerve and more – even before you realize that you are affected.
What happens during an Optical Coherence Tomography scan?
An OCT scan is a quick, painless experience. To prepare you, your eye doctor may require you to have eyedrops that will dilate your pupils and make it easier to see your retina. This means that the scanner will get clearer, more concise images. You’ll be asked to sit in front of the OCT machine where you will rest your head against a support to help you sit perfectly still. As you stare ahead, the equipment will perform the scan of your eyes. There is no contact with your eyes whatsoever, you will just need to sit still, with your eyes open as much as possible during the process, which usually takes less than 10 minutes. The images will be sent digitally to your eye doctor for them to assess immediately and stored digitally on your personal record.
There’s no downtime after an OCT scan, but if you have had your eyes dilated you may find that you are particularly sensitive to light for a few hours afterwards. This occurs because the pupils remain wider and therefore able to let more light in that usual.
If you would like to find out more about Optical Coherence Tomography, don’t hesitate to speak to our professional eyecare team.