Here at Fitzsimons Opticians we have recently installed a state-of-the-art OCT scanner. OCT – Ocular Coherence Tomography is an advanced eye scan, similar to ultrasound, which produces a 3D image to illustrate the different layers making up the back of the eye. Using these images we can now quickly and effectively detect several eye conditions which might go undedected using traditional eye tests. These include age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, glaucoma, macular holes and vitreous detachments.
By having an OCT scan carried out, we can have an invaluable, on-going record of the health and condition of your eyes. There is a small charge of £30 to have this OCT scan done, but the benefits are obvious.
The OCT scanner in more detail.
Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an extremely advanced health check for people of all ages. It is quite different from digital eye photographs you may have had during your eyetest or diabetic retinal screening since these only image the surface of the back of the eye. This scan sees under the retina to parts that cannot be seen by the most common instruments.
The OCT scanner uses light waves, there are no harmful X-rays involved, and is perfectly safe for everyone. The NHS don’t fund this procedure so there is a small charge for this scan, but you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your eyes have been fully checked.
The health of your eye matters to you and it matters to us too, which is why we are offering OCT to all our patients. OCT is a new, completely painless and highly advanced screening system that checks for potentially serious conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, vitreous detachments and more
The retina, which is the back of the eye, is sensitive to light and transmits the signals of light received by the eye to the brain. The brain interprets these signals and converts them to what we know as vision.The retina is a window to the vasculature (blood vessels) within the body and many undiagnosed systemic vascular diseases can be discovered with thorough retinal examination. An OCT scan can help us to discover these diseases. It optically slices through the thickness of the retina and images what appears under the retina. It’s like slicing through a cake and seeing all the invisible layers below the upper surface. The results of this can allow us to treat the disease and potentially save vision and can also reduce the risk of morbidity from life threatening diseases.
What can the scan check for?
Common conditions identified through regular OCT screening include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
Macular degeneration causes the gradual breakdown of the macular (the central portion of the eye). OCT can identify this condition and its type (there are two types, wet and dry) and 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. Here in the UK, more than 2 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 hundred people over the age of forty. 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 macular – the part of the retina which is responsible for our sharp, detailed, central vision. This is the vision we use when we are looking directly at things, when reading, sewing or using 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’ and eventually tears the retina, leaving a hole. Extreme exposure to sunlight (for example staring at 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 becomes 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.