You may be wondering what an OCT scan is or whether you need one, so we’ve put together a handy guide.
What is an OCT scan?
OCT, short for ‘Optical Coherence Tomography’, is a cutting-edge, hospital-quality scan that examines your eyes in greater detail than conventional methods and detects early signs of eye conditions and disease.
The scanning system is completely painless and provides high resolution images of your eye.
This highly-advanced technology helps to safeguard your eye health, as optometrists can take action immediately to help preserve your sight.
Why might you need an OCT scan?
OCT scans are generally recommended for anyone over 25 years old, or if you are at a higher risk of developing an eye condition. An OCT scan can detect diabetes, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, macular holes and vitreous detachments.
If you have any concerns about your eyesight, an OCT scan will provide an in-depth picture of your eye health, including screening for eye disease.
Many common eye diseases develop gradually or without any significant symptoms. So even if your eyes and vision appear fine, an OCT scan will give a good understanding of your overall eye health.
How does it differ from a normal eye test?
Routine eye tests typically include:
Vision test to measure how well you can see with and without lenses in front of your eyes. Patients are asked to read from a Snellen test chart, where the letters get smaller.
Retinoscopy to test for long or short sightedness. Your optometrist will shine a light in each eye, as well as place a different lens in front of each eye to calculate the prescription.
Ophthalmoscope to check eye health. A specialist torch is used to examine the retina at the back of your eye, to check that your optic nerve and blood vessels are healthy.
Slit lamp test to check for damage of abnormality on your cornea, iris and lens, by examining the front of your eyes.
Visual field check to detect early signs of glaucoma and other health issues, by assessing your ability to detect flashes of light in your peripheral vision.
An OCT scan goes a step further than this. It’s a hospital-grade eye scan that views the structures of your eye in even greater detail and can help your optometrist spot signs of eye health issues up to 4 years earlier than traditional methods.
How does an OCT scan work?
An OCT scan works in a similar way to how an ultrasound scan uses sound waves, but an OCT scan uses light waves to create a 3D image of your eye.
You’ll be asked to sit in front of a small machine with your chin placed on a support. The instrument will scan both eyes, one at a time, without touching them. It only takes a few seconds to complete.
The high resolution 3D images will then be examined by the optometrist using specialist built-in analysis tools, so the relevant diagnosis and treatment can be made.
We advise patients to book now for an initial baseline scan, which we can compare to scans on future visits. By regularly having OCT scans, your optician can spot subtle changes in the thickness of the layers. This can indicate early signs of eye conditions, making them much easier to treat.
We recommend that scans should coincide with your normal eye examination frequency of 2 years.
For higher risk groups where there is glaucoma, macula degeneration or diabetes in a close relative, then an annual scan would be advisable.