What is OCT Imaging? What does it tell you about your eyes?

At Eyesite, we use OCT imaging to give your eyes a thorough examination using a 3D scan of your retina. OCT is painless and the results arrive instantly for us to examine.

Far superior to traditional retinal photography, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an extremely advanced health check for people of all ages. It is quite different to digital eye photographs offered by your doctor or other opticians, since they only image the surface of the back of the eye. OCT scans all the different layers of the retina revealing parts that cannot be seen by any other instruments at the opticians.

How does OCT work?

Very similar to Ultrasound, OCT uses light waves rather than sound waves to get a 3D scan of your retina. There are no harmful x-rays involved and the scan is perfectly safe for everyone’s eyes and body. We also capture a digital photograph of the surface of the retina to cross reference areas of concern.

Why do we image your retina?

Your retina, which is the back of your eye, is sensitive to light and it transmits the signals of light received by the eye to the brain. The brain interprets these signals and converts them to images we call vision. The most detail- and colour-sensitive part of the eye is at the centre of the retina and is called the macula.

The retina is a window to the blood vessels that run throughout the body. Many undiagnosed systemic vascular conditions, such as diabetes, can be discovered with thorough retinal examination. Recognising these conditions can potentially save vision and help diagnose medical problems. OCT is also particularly effective at assessing the development of macula degeneration and glaucoma.

Normal testing room equipment or eye cameras can only see the surface of the retina. Many conditions begin their damage in the layers of the retina below the surface and OCT imaging can view all these layers in cross section. Our state-of-the-art OCT equipment optically slices through the thickness of the retina and images what appears under the surface of the retina. It’s like slicing through a cake and seeing all the layers below the upper surface.

What can OCT imaging reveal?

There are a wide range of eye conditions that OCT eye tests can help to diagnose. These include:

  • Age-related macula degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Macula oedema
  • Macula pucker
  • Central Serous retinopathy
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Epiretinal membranes
  • Macula hole

Optical Coherence Tomography can also be used to assess disorders of the optic nerve. If any changes occur to the nerve fibres (often caused by conditions such as glaucoma), the OCT exam can help your optometrist to pinpoint these and recommend suitable referral.

As the OCT eye test works by emitting light waves, it is not effective for diagnosing any eye condition that interferes with light passing through the eye, such as cataracts.

So, enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your eyes are in the best condition (hopefully) with an OCT eye exam from Eyesite.