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Is an OCT scan worth it and who should have one?

An OCT scan is a procedure performed in addition to a routine eye test. The scan is often included in an advanced eye examination. Because there is usually an additional charge, some people ask, is an OCT scan worth it?

What is an OCT scan?

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a scan that uses red light to look through the structure of the eye. Many eye conditions form at the back of the eye which can’t be seen in a regular test. An OCT scan allows the optician to see deep into the eyes to assess their health. The test is more thorough than a standard eye exam.

An OCT scan is very similar to an ultrasound scan. But instead of sound waves, it uses light waves to allow for 3D, 4D and cross-sectional images of the eye’s anatomy. The resultant images allow the optician to assess the layers that make up the retina and the anterior and posterior segments of the eye.

What are OCT scans used for?

OCT scans are an essential test for ophthalmologists to monitor eye health and diagnose eye conditions and diseases. OCT is primarily used in the initial diagnosis of various retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. It can be used to detect glaucoma and in some cases diagnose the condition several years earlier than a standard eye test.

An OCT scan will be recommended if you are aged 25 or over and have a family history of diabetes, glaucoma, or other types of eye disease. Also, when toric contact lenses and multifocal contact lenses are prescribed, the optician might also recommend an OCT scan. This is because these types of contacts place a high demand on the performance of the macula – a part of the retina at the rear of the eye.

Are OCT scans safe?

OCT has been with us for over 25 years now and the test is completely safe. The scan is non-invasive, easy to perform, quick and painless. There are no known side effects or complications. The optician will not need to touch your eye. There are no potentially harmful X-rays used in an OCT scan and it is considered safe for those who are pregnant.

For some patients, particularly those over the age of 60, eye drops might need to be administered to dilate the retina for a clearer view. The optician will advise you of this in advance. Your eyes might be a little more sensitive to light afterwards so you might want to have someone else drive you home or bring some sunglasses.

So, is an OCT scan worth it?

An OCT scan has become an important test for many people who visit their ophthalmologist for an eye health check. A scan provides you with peace of mind that your eyes have been fully tested to confirm that they are healthy. If you are someone who is at risk of, is suspected of, or has been diagnosed as having an eye condition or disease, then an OCT test is essential.

It can also be a good idea for everyone to have an OCT scan whether they might have an eye condition or not. This is because the scan allows your optical practice to establish a baseline image on file that can be referred to in order to monitor the condition of your eyes and any changes over time.

OCT scans and eye tests in Cardigan and Narberth

Both Pritchard Cowburn branches of opticians in Narberth and Cardigan can offer OCT scans as part of advanced eye testing. If you think you would benefit from an OCT scan or want to find out more, get in touch with our friendly experts. If you have more questions like ‘is an OCT scan worth it?’, we’re more than happy to answer them.