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What is an OCT Scan?

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A female optometrist examining the eyes of a young man using a medical device to detect potential eye problems.

In the realm of eye care, technological advancements have significantly enhanced our ability to diagnose and manage various ocular conditions. 

One such innovation is the Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan, a non-invasive imaging technique that provides detailed cross-sectional images of the eye’s internal structures. Optical Coherence Tomography is best compared to an ultrasound, except it uses light rather than sound to help eye care professionals achieve clearer, sharper resolution.

This technology is helping to revolutionize the modern eye industry, making eye examinations and management easier than before. 

At Discover Eyecare, we are a practice that prides itself on leveraging advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment. We believe the right technology can help identify eye diseases or conditions sooner, leading to more effective treatments.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

OCT, short for Optical Coherence Tomography, is a non-invasive imaging technology that provides high-resolution retina images. This technology helps in the early detection and diagnosis of retinal diseases by differentiating the layers within the retina and measuring retinal thickness. 

OCT has become a standard method for assessing and treating most retinal conditions. It uses light rays to measure retinal thickness, involves no radiation, and is often used to monitor disease progression, validate or rule out suspected retinal swelling, or check the effectiveness of current medication regimes.

How Does OCT Work?

At its core, OCT functions similarly to ultrasound imaging, but instead of sound waves, it employs light waves to create detailed images. The process involves directing a beam of light into the eye, which is then reflected from various layers within the eye. 

OCT generates detailed, high-resolution images of the eye’s internal structures by measuring the time it takes for the light to return.

What to Expect? 

The process is straightforward. You will be positioned in front of the OCT machine, resting your chin on a support to maintain a steady position.

The technician will then instruct you to gaze directly into the machine’s lens while it scans your eye. The procedure is relatively swift, typically requiring about 5 to 10 minutes per eye. Observing some flashes of light is normal, but rest assured, it is part of the process.

The machine then shines light waves into your eye to capture the cross-sectional images required for your eye exam. You will not experience any physical sensation during this process. 

Upon completion of the scan, your eye doctor will review the images and discuss the results with you.

Significance in Ophthalmology

OCT scans have revolutionized the field of ophthalmology and optometry by providing invaluable insights into various ocular conditions. Here are some key areas where OCT scans play a crucial role:

  • Retinal imaging: OCT allows clinicians to visualize the retina in unprecedented detail, aiding in the diagnosis and management of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
  • Optic nerve assessment: By capturing cross-sectional images of the optic nerve, OCT helps in the early detection and monitoring of conditions like optic neuritis, glaucoma, and optic nerve head drusen.
  • Corneal evaluation: OCT can also be used to assess the cornea, providing valuable information about its thickness, topography, and any abnormalities such as keratoconus or corneal edema.
  • Anterior segment imaging: In addition to the posterior segment, OCT can visualize the anterior segment of the eye, including the iris, lens, and anterior chamber angle. This is particularly useful in assessing conditions like angle-closure glaucoma and anterior segment tumours.

Advantages of OCT Scans

  • Non-invasive: OCT imaging is non-invasive, making it well-tolerated by patients of all ages.
  • High-resolution: OCT provides high-resolution, cross-sectional images, allowing for detailed assessment of ocular structures.
  • Early detection: By detecting subtle changes in ocular tissues, OCT facilitates early diagnosis and intervention for various eye conditions.
  • Objective data: OCT generates objective, quantifiable data, aiding clinicians in treatment planning and monitoring disease progression.
A woman in an optical clinic shaking hands with her optometrist

Embracing Precision in Ocular Health with OCT Scans

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scans have transformed how we diagnose and manage ocular conditions. 

By providing detailed, high-resolution images of the eye’s internal structures, OCT plays a vital role in the early detection, monitoring, and treatment of various eye diseases. 

As technology continues to evolve, OCT imaging will further aid our understanding of ocular health and improve patient outcomes in the field of ophthalmology.

Discover Eyecare is here to help you and your family with your eye care needs; we encourage you to book your next eye exam today!

Written by Dr. Jonathan Laudadio

Jonathan was born and raised in Quebec. He moved to Abbotsford, BC, where he attended high school before moving on to UBC for his undergrad. Jonathan completed his Doctorate of Optometry at the Université de Montréal in 2004 with some training at the Portland VA Medical Centre. He has been in private practice since graduating and has worked six years in a laser surgery/ophthalmology clinic. He is a very proud father of 2 girls, plays sports, loves his Montreal Canadiens, and baseball.
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