OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography. This scanning technology allows us to ‘see’ tissue behind the visible retina inside the eye. In the past 5 years OCT has changed the way we
can assess eyes, becoming invaluable in management of conditions such as Macular Degeneration (MD) and Glaucoma.
When we see signs of MD in a regular examination we can take an OCT scan to ‘see’ what is happening in the underlying retina. In particular we want to spot Wet MD which can cause more devastating vision changes. When there is fluid accumulating in the macula the OCT shows us where this is - very important to make timely referrals for treatment.
The detailed measurements of the nerve fibre layer in the retina are particularly helpful when we are looking for Glaucoma. Starting with signs in a routine examination, OCT is often the next step. Careful monitoring over time allows us to see changes, possibly before these have caused any vision loss, which is early detection.
But OCT is not a magic bullet, and it cannot stand alone. It’s a tool and interpreting the results needs careful consideration along with all other clinical findings. Recently there has been promotion of OCT at every examination and the benefits this will bring. At the end of the day an OCT scanner is not an optometrist. Scans should be recommended when they will provide useful additional information.
We are committed to using all our available diagnostic tools and we strongly believe the best place to start is our comprehensive eye examination. The simple, vital step of spending time to collect relevant history, which requires careful listening and no technology, guides us to the best combination of diagnostic testing needed including OCT.