Optical Coherence Tomography

“Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an imaging technique that uses low-coherence light to capture micro-meter resolution, two and three dimensional images from within biological tissue.” (Wikipedia) Whew! What does that mean in English??? Well, the way I explain it to my patient’s is this:

The retina itself actually has several sublayers and a blood supply underneath that. When the optometrist looks at the back of your eye or takes a retinal photograph they are looking at the very top, first surface layer of the retina. The OCT allows us to take a scan (similar looking to an ultrasound) to see all of the sublayers and the underlying blood supply. This provides much earlier detection and diagnosis of eye conditions such as wet and dry age-related macular degeneration; glaucoma; macular and retinal holes; epi-retinal membranes; Plaquenil medication screenings; swollen discs and many more. It is completely non-invasive and does not carry any health risks unlike an X-ray.

The OCT is a specialist piece of equipment which aids in preventative eye care; early detection and shared care models with the ophthalmologists. Ocular pathologies such as glaucoma can be detected 8x earlier using the OCT vs. Visual field or retinal photography/ eye examinations alone. They provide great baselines for ocular health examination at the time of the eye exam as well as a reference for future visual or ocular health changes. Quite often very early, small subtle changes can be seen at the retina even before vision is affected. I would recommend this test for anyone who would like to have the most in depth; thorough investigation of their eye health no matter what their age. I pro-actively recommend OCT scans to anyone over 40 years; with a family history of macular degeneration or glaucoma; or are noticing specific vision changes.

May is macular degeneration awareness month and I would recommend anyone over 65 years; with a family history of macular degeneration or simply wanting to have a thorough eye examination, to book in for an OCT scan. The OCT scan is $75 and is not covered by Medicare. St Lukes is the only private health company that currently contributes payment towards it. Depending on the St. Lukes health cover level you may be eligible for a rebate up to 70% of the payment.

We look forward to seeing you all in May.



Written by Karlee Foley

Optometrist/ Owner

BOptom (First class Honours); PGCOT;

Specialist certificate in Management of Paediatric Patients; Specialist certificate in Management of Neural-ophthalmic disorders; Specialist certificate in Management of Contact Lens Patients.


Reference: Wikipedia- Optical coherence tomography

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