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Optical Coherence Technology (OCT)

What is an OCT retinal image?

OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography. Simply put, the OCT is another non-invasive tool that “takes pictures of the back of your eye.”

Another way to think of OCT is that it functions like an ultrasound, except it uses light* – instead of sound waves – to map the shape of the retina and optic nerve. It is safe, non-invasive, and not destructive to tissue. A camera-like device directs waves of light which bounce back and form an accurate 3-D picture of your eye (your retina). As well as the 3D scan, the OCT takes a photograph of the eye in high resolution. This allows us to pinpoint any area of concern to review in-depth.

OCT is a great tool in diagnosing different eye diseases like: glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retina tears, retinal detachments, central serous retinopathy, retinal/macular cysts, macular hole, macular pucker, and macular edema. In some cases OCT can help your eye care practitioner diagnose eye disease early, which allows for more effective treatment. Because the OCT images provide such a detailed view of your retina, they can detect even the smallest indications of eye disease. In addition to early disease diagnosis, OCT can also help with monitoring the progression of eye disease, diagnosing eye disease in children, which can other be difficult, and diagnosing other diseases like hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and other vascular diseases,

Reno Family Eye Care performs a one time screening OCT scan on all new or existing patients presenting for their comprehensive exam at the age 40 and older at no cost. Further OCT scans are then used to monitor medical conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy if warranted.

Your eye care practitioner will likely recommend an OCT exam if you have an increased risk of eye disease. You may have an increased risk of eye disease if you are over the age of 50 or have: a personal history of certain eye conditions, a family history of eye disease, diabetes, hypertension, other vascular health conditions, and/or if you are taking high risk medications. Even if you don’t have a high risk of eye disease, OCT exams are still a great way to help protect your eye health. By having OCT exams regularly, it creates a baseline that your optometrist can reference. Using this baseline, your optometrist can detect the smallest changes to your eyes over time. Reno Family Eye Care performs a one time screening OCT scan on all new or existing patients presenting for their comprehensive exam at the age 40 or older at no cost. If necessary, further OCT scans can be performed, and the interval at which scans are performed are determined by your eye care practitioner.

FAQs about OCT

How does optical coherence tomography work?

Optical coherence tomography uses a low-powered laser to create pictures of the layers of your retina and optic nerve. The cross-sectional images are three-dimensional and color-coded.

What should I expect if I’m having an optical coherence tomography exam?

There’s no special preparation needed for an OCT test.

You’ll sit down and rest your chin on a support attached to the machine. The OCT equipment will scan one eye at a time. You’ll focus your eyes on a green target within the machine. You may see a red line while you’re having the scan. The test will take minutes.

Nothing touches your eye.

What are the risks of optical coherence tomography?

There aren’t any risks or side effects associated with optical coherence tomography scans. However, because this type of test relies on light, OCT isn’t effective if you have thick cataracts or heavy bleeding in the back of your eye.

What type of results do you get and what do the results mean?

Your healthcare provider will evaluate the images from the optical coherence tomography test and go over them with you. They may need time to compare older scans to the newest ones. You should have the results quickly.

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