What is OCT?
OCT – Ocular Coherence Tomography – is an advanced eye scan for people of all ages. Similar to ultrasound, OCT uses light rather than sound waves to illustrate the different layers that make up the back of your eye. We also capture a digital photograph of the surface of your eye to cross-reference areas of concern.
Using a Topcon state-of-the-art 3D OCT camera , your optometrist will take both a digital photograph and a three dimensional cross sectional scan of the back of your eye in one sitting. This allows us to instantly diagnose a number of common conditions. The scan is non-invasive, painless simple and quick. What’s more, the software can automatically detect even the most subtle changes to the retina with every eye test you take. This gives you an invaluable ongoing record of the health and condition of your eyes.
What can the scan check for?
Common conditions identified through regular OCT screening include:
1. Age-related macular degeneration
Macular degeneration causes the gradual breakdown of the macula (the central portion of the eye). OCT cannot only identify this condition and its type (there are two types, wet and dry) but also monitor its progress, for example if you are undergoing treatment for such a condition. Unfortunately the risk of developing macular degeneration increases with age, and it is the most common cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of fifty.
Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of visual impairment among adults. In Ireland and the UK, more than two million people have been identified as having diabetes. OCT examination enables early detection, which greatly improves the success rate of treatment.
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye. Recent statistics suggest that some form of glaucoma affects around two in every 100 people over the age of 40. The danger with chronic glaucoma is that there is no pain and your eyesight will seem to be unchanged, but your vision is being damaged. An OCT examination will confirm if you are at risk, or indeed what stage of glaucoma you may have.
4. Macular Holes
A macular hole is a small hole in the macula – the part of the retina which is responsible for our sharp, detailed, central vision. This is vision we use when we are looking directly at things, when reading, sewing or looking at a computer. There are many causes of macular holes. One is caused by vitreous detachment, when the vitreous pulls away from the back of the eye and sometimes it does not let go, eventually tearing the retina and leaving a hole. Extreme exposure to sunlight (for example staring a the sun during an eclipse) can also cause a macular hole to develop.
5. Vitreous detachments
Vitreomacular traction can clearly be diagnosed through OCT providing invaluable information about the current relationship between the vitreous and the retinal surface of the eye. As people get older the vitreous jelly that takes up the space in our eyeball can change. It can become less firm and can move away from the back of the eye towards the centre, in some cases parts do not detach and cause “pulling” of the retinal surface. The danger of a vitreous detachment is that there is no pain and your eyesight will seem unchanged but the back of your eye may be being damaged.
The OCT scan is now available at Urban Optics, Scott’s Street, Killarney. The scan costs €35.00 in addition to examination fees.