As the field of optometry continues to advance and expand, so does the technology available to optometric physicians to care for their patients. One of the most exciting fields of development in optometry today is that of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The OCT is a device that allows our doctors to diagnose and subsequently treat many diseases and conditions of the retina and optic nerve. The OCT works on the same principles as an ultrasound scanner, except that it uses light instead of sound to form the images. Since light travels much faster and with far shorter wavelengths than sound, the images produced by the OCT are more detailed, with a higher resolution.
The OCT is an excellent tool for our doctors because it allows them to analyze tissue that is not visible during a routine vision examination. The retina is composed of several layers of tissue that are only microns thick and the OCT allows for differentiation of each of these layers. This unprecedented degree of resolution allows the doctors to very quickly and accurately determine the location and extent of damage caused by diseases, often before there are any visual manifestations. The OCT can help the doctors prevent visual loss from cases of diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma, where early diagnosis is critical to preserving vision. Often, OCT can be performed without dilating the eyes.