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Optical Coherence Tomography

  • Anterior segment of the eye

  • Glaucoma

  • Retina


Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), widely known by its acronym in English, is a non-invasive imaging study of the eye. OCT employs light waves to capture cross-sectional images of the eye.

With OCT, your ophthalmologist can visualize each of the different layers that comprise the eye, from the cornea, iridocorneal angle, iris, lens, retina, choroid, to the optic nerves that connect your eyes to your brain. This enables your ophthalmologist to create a map and measure various thicknesses among other specific anatomical features of your eyes. These measurements aid in determining a diagnosis.

The images obtained through optical coherence tomography also provide guidance on the treatment of glaucoma, retinal diseases, and toxicity resulting from the consumption of various medications for treating illnesses. These retinal diseases include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, retinal artery and/or vein occlusions or infarcts, benign or malignant tumors of the retina, among others.

What happens during an OCT scan?

In preparation for an OCT examination, your ophthalmologist may or may not administer dilating eye drops. These drops enlarge the pupil and facilitate the examination of the retina.

You'll be seated in front of the OCT machine and rest your head on a support to keep it still. Then, the equipment will scan your eye without touching it. The examination lasts around 5 to 10 minutes. If your eyes are dilated, they might be more sensitive to light for several hours after the examination.

What diseases can an OCT help diagnose?

Optical coherence tomography is useful in diagnosing many eye conditions, including:

  • Macular hole

  • Epiretinal membrane

  • Macular edema

  • Age-related macular degeneration

  • Glaucoma

  • Central serous retinopathy

  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Hypertensive retinopathy

  • Vitreomacular traction

  • Medication toxicity from rheumatological diseases like hydroxychloroquine or cancer treatment drugs

  • Macular drusen

  • Choroidal melanoma

  • Choroidal nevus

  • Choroidal osteoma

  • Retinal hemangiomas

  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia

  • Ocular surface cancer

  • Potentially occludable angle of the anterior segment of the eye

  • Iris tumors

OCT is often used to evaluate optic nerve disorders. The OCT examination aids your ophthalmologist in observing changes in optic nerve fibers. For instance, it can detect changes caused by glaucoma.

OCT employs light waves. It cannot be successfully used with conditions that interfere with the passage of light through the eye, such as dense cataracts or significant bleeding in the vitreous.

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