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Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT)



Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)


When patients come to our office for an eye exam, many times there is testing that we do to help us in diagnosing any problems.  One of these tests is a picture called an Optical Coherence Tomography or OCT.   These pictures are generated by light waves that reflect off the back of the eye or retina, giving images similar to a low power microscope and provides cross sectional images.   These images can display the various layers of the retina.  The OCT is also used to image the optic nerve which is important in glaucoma treatment and management.

OCT is a non-invasive and non-contact test that doesn't require any preparation from the patient. There is no exposure to radiation since the machine uses light to obtain the images.  The patient sits in front of a machine, a couple of bright flashes occur such as when getting a photo taken and then the photos can be viewed on the machine within a minute.

The OCT is an extremely valuable tool used to help diagnose and manage such common retinal eye diseases such as Age Related Macular Degeneration, macular edema (fluid in the retina), and macular hole/epiretinal membranes. We use the initial OCT to aid in making a definitive diagnosis.  The initial OCT compares your eye to a database of normal people matched to your age. In this way the initial OCT can help point out issues that are different from normal or average.  Subsequent OCTs can then compare how you look today compared to how you looked initially.  This can be very valuable in gauging how well treatment is working or if the problem is progressing. 

The other common use of the OCT is for monitoring and managing glaucoma.  We usually take initial images of the optic nerve, and the OCT can then compare these images to those of age matched healthy control patients.  The OCT will usually be repeated every year so we can follow any changes or progression over time.  

The advent of OCT has really changed the way we evaluate the retina because we can now detect very subtle findings not easily seen on clinical exam.  It also can perform objective comparisons of the patient’s retina and optic nerve between visits. This makes the OCT one of the most valuable tests we do routinely in our office.

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Friday, 22 October 2021

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