Optical coherence tomography, or OCT, is a non-invasive diagnostic test used by retina specialists and glaucoma specialists, though OCT technology is studying different parts of the eye. The optical coherence tomography can augment information from a fluorescein angiogram – another diagnostic test used by retina specialists.
Using light waves to study the retina, the OCT produces information about the surface of the retina and the retina in cross-section. Information about the surface of the retina is called topography, whereas tomography refers to the study of the tissue in cross-section.
Diseases Studied by OCT
Common retinal diseases studied by the optical coherence tomography are:
- ARMD – Macular Degeneration
- Idiopathic Macular Holes
- Epiretinal Membranes – aka Macular Pucker
- Macular Swelling
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Retinal Vascular Occlusions (RVO)
In addition to diagnostic testing, optical coherence tomography allows the retina specialist to monitor the efficacy of treatments. For instance, in cases of diabetic retinopathy, is the retina swelling improving or getting worse with a particular treatment?
Glaucoma Specialists Use OCT
OCT is very helpful in the diagnosis and management of patients with glaucoma. The OCT can image the optic nerve and thickness of the retinal nerve fibers which are damaged in glaucoma.
In-Office and Non-Invasive
The test is easy, quick, and painless. It is performed routinely in the office setting and is non-invasive. There are no needles or dye-injections, unlike a fluorescein angiogram.
The test requires that, while sitting, you place your chin comfortably in the apparatus, stare at a fixation target and hold very still. Nothing touches your eye. There is no puff of air.
The entire study take s a few minutes per eye. A computer printout can be produced or is linked to your electronic medical record for the doctor to review.