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  • Writer's pictureJaney Yee

Understanding Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Exams: Taking Care of Your Eyes


@180 Optometry, Optical Coherence Tomography, proactive eyecare, glaucoma specialist, myopia control specialist, no more referrals to ophthalmologist
Retinal scan from Optical Coherence Tomographer


When it comes to preserving our most precious sense – vision – comprehensive eye exams are indispensable. Yet, in the realm of modern eye care, traditional examinations may not always reveal the full spectrum of ocular health. This is where Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), an advanced 3D imaging technology, emerges as a game-changer, offering unparalleled insights into the intricate structures of the eye through an OCT scan. Making the invisible visible and quantifiable.

OCT, a non-invasive imaging technology akin to an optical ultrasound, enables optometrists to capture high-resolution, cross-sectional images of the retina, optic nerve, and cornea. By incorporating OCT into routine eye exams, the benefits are manifold, including enhanced retinal imaging and optic nerve imaging, which contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of eye health.


Why OCT Exams Are Important for Your Eye Health


OCT exams play a crucial role in helping us to detect and monitor eye conditions that may not be visible during a regular eye exam. By capturing detailed images of the back of your eye, we can detect potential issues early, allowing for timely treatment and better management of your eye health.


Importance of OCT Scans in Eye Exams

  1. Detecting Eye Diseases: OCT scans are crucial in detecting and monitoring various eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, and retinal diseases. These scans provide detailed images of the retina, allowing optometrists to identify and track the progression of these diseases.

  2. Evaluating Retinal Health: The scan provides high-resolution images of the retina, enabling eye care professionals to assess the thickness and health of the different layers of the retina. This is important in diagnosing and managing retinal conditions.

  3. Treatment Planning: For conditions like macular holes or swelling of the retina, OCT scans help in planning appropriate treatments and assessing their effectiveness over time.

  4. Early Detection: The detailed images obtained from OCT scans allow for the early detection of subtle changes in the retina, which is crucial for timely intervention and better outcomes in managing various eye diseases.

  5. Monitoring Progression: In addition to diagnosing eye conditions, OCT scans are valuable for monitoring the progression of diseases and the effectiveness of treatments over time. This helps in making informed decisions about the ongoing management of the patient's eye health.



Potential Eye Health Issues that Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Can Help Detect and Monitor


  • Glaucoma

  • Age-related macular degeneration

  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Retinal diseases


@180 Optometry, Optical coherence tomography, glaucoma specialist, myopia control specialist, no more referrals to ophthalmologist, Vancouver, BC
Tracking the progression of glaucoma with an OCT


What is the Difference Between an OCT Scan and Retinal Photos?


The main difference between an OCT scan and a retinal photo lies in the type of imaging they provide and the information they offer about the eye's structure.

OCT Scans

  • OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses light waves to capture detailed cross-sectional images of the retina.

  • It provides high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the retina, allowing for the assessment of its thickness and the identification of various layers within the retina.

  • OCT scans are particularly useful in diagnosing and monitoring conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.

Retinal Photos

  • Retinal photography involves capturing a two-dimensional image of the back of the eye using a specialized camera.

  • It provides a flat, static image of the retina, which can be useful for documenting the appearance of the retina and identifying any abnormalities such as bleeding, swelling, or signs of disease.

  • Retinal photos are often used for screening purposes and for documenting the progression of retinal conditions over time.

Key Differences

  • Type of Imaging: OCT provides cross-sectional, three-dimensional images, while retinal photos offer two-dimensional images.

  • Information Provided: OCT scans offer detailed information about the layers and thickness of the retina, making them valuable for diagnosing specific conditions. On the other hand, retinal photos provide a broad view of the retina's surface and are useful for general documentation and monitoring.


While both OCT scans and retinal photos are valuable tools for assessing eye health, they differ in the type of imaging they provide and the specific information they offer about the back of the eye.


@ 180 Optometry, Vancouver, BC, optical coherence tomography, glaucoma specialist, myopia control specialist, no more referrals to ophthalmologist
Anterior Chamber scan to check for closed angle glaucoma with an OCT scan


In essence, integrating OCT into eye exams is not merely an advancement in technology, but a paradigm shift in ocular care. Its capacity to unveil the hidden intricacies of ocular health equips optometrists with a comprehensive understanding of their patients' eyes, thereby paving the way for personalized, precise care. As we embrace the visionary technology of OCT, we embark on a journey towards proactive eye care, early intervention, and the preservation of one of our most treasured gifts – the gift of sight.

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