Optical Coherence Tomography

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take images of your retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye.

When is optical coherence tomography performed at Hope Optometrists?

Our eye care professional suggests OCT as part of your routine eye exam or if you already have a condition that they’re helping you manage.

Healthcare providers use OCT to diagnose and manage several conditions that affect the eyes, including:

  • Glaucoma: If you have glaucoma, fluid and pressure build up in your eye and damage your optic nerve.
  • Age-related macular degeneration: People may lose central vision with this condition. It’s a progressive disease related to aging but, fortunately, treatments are available for some forms.
  • Diabetes-related retinopathyDiabetes damages the small blood vessels of your eye leading to vision loss. Fluid can leak out of your eye causing blurry vision. In severe forms, your entire retina can detach from the back of your eye and glaucoma may develop. People can become completely blind, but with treatment, diabetes-related retinopathy can be controlled.
  • Cystoid macular edema: Macular edema refers to the swelling of your macula with fluid. Your macula is the part of your retina that has the most light-sensing cells


How does OCT work?

  • OCT 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 OCT?

  • There aren’t any risks or side effects associated with optical coherence tomography scans, except possibly some dryness or eye fatigue. However, because this type of test relies on light, OCT isn’t effective if you have thick cataracts or heavy bleeding in your vitreous. Your vitreous is the gel that fills your eyeball.


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.